December 5, 2023

Howard Schultz is retiring from Starbucks — once more.

Starbucks mentioned Schultz, its former CEO and longtime chief, would step down from the espresso chain’s board of administrators, efficient Wednesday, totally exiting the corporate’s management after he returned final yr to assist it navigate labor and operational challenges. 

The Seattle-based firm mentioned Schultz’s departure from the board was deliberate. He ended his third tenure as Starbucks’s CEO in March, with former Reckitt Benckiser CEO Laxman Narasimhan taking up the position. 

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz testifies concerning the firm’s labor and union practices throughout a Senate Committee on Well being, Schooling, Labor and Pensions listening to on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, March 29, 2023.  (Picture by SAUL LOEB/AFP by way of Getty Pictures / Getty Pictures)

Schultz, 70, constructed Starbucks from a neighborhood espresso store into a worldwide chain over the a long time. He mentioned Wednesday he would give attention to his household basis and numerous philanthropic and entrepreneurial investments.


“I sit up for supporting this subsequent era of leaders to steward Starbucks into the long run as a buyer, supporter and advocate in my position as chairman emeritus,” Schultz mentioned in a press release. The corporate mentioned he would maintain no operational or fiduciary roles.

Ticker Safety Final Change Change %
SBUX STARBUCKS CORP. 96.93 +0.69 +0.72%

Starbucks’s management has been in flux over the previous year-and-a-half. Kevin Johnson stepped down as chief government and board director in April 2022, after main the corporate for 5 years. Starbucks then referred to as again Schultz to the CEO and board roles to assist steer the corporate at what it described as an inflection level.

The corporate on the time mentioned Schultz would function interim CEO, although it didn’t specify how lengthy he would stay on the board.

Line forms at a Starbucks location at an airport

Passengers ready for his or her flight queing up on a Starbucks espresso and snack bar in airport.  (iStock / iStock)

Schultz stays one of many firm’s largest shareholders. Starbucks mentioned in a securities submitting Wednesday that it will proceed to supply Schultz and his partner with safety in gentle of his latest CEO position, with the companies evaluated yearly. Starbucks mentioned it will additionally reimburse Schultz for his month-to-month health-insurance premiums. The corporate paid Schultz a $1 wage when he returned to Starbucks as CEO final yr.

Starbucks shares declined barely in after-hours buying and selling Wednesday, after closing 0.7% larger.

As he stepped again into the CEO position, Schultz pledged to reinvest in Starbucks’s baristas and operations via a strategic plan initiated in 2022, saying the corporate wanted to enhance its service and attraction to its workers.


Schultz promised to rectify missteps that he mentioned Starbucks made popping out of the Covid-19 pandemic, whereas he sought to rear a brand new era of firm leaders. He and different executives pledged to spend billions of {dollars} to develop worker advantages, improve cafes and set up new gear to make serving elaborate iced espresso drinks simpler.

Starbucks’s board presided over a seek for its subsequent everlasting CEO, and introduced the number of Narasimhan final September. Narasimhan educated below Schultz and different Starbucks leaders for roughly six months earlier than formally taking the helm in March.

Narasimhan is Starbucks’s first CEO from exterior the corporate. Narasimhan mentioned Wednesday he provided his respect to Schultz, and that the corporate will proceed to put money into its employees and enterprise.

Schultz has stepped away from Starbucks earlier than, solely to return at instances that he mentioned the corporate required course-correcting or new management.


TIANJIN, CHINA – 2019/04/30: Ice Starbucks espresso on desk. On April 26, Starbucks launched its newest earnings report. Starbucks gross sales in China grew by 9% to $700 million within the first quarter of this yr, pushed by new shops. Final yr, Starbucks (Zhang Peng/LightRocket by way of Getty Pictures / Getty Pictures)

Schultz took over management of Starbucks in 1987 after he acquired the then-local espresso enterprise, overseeing its growth till stepping down as its CEO in 2000. He returned to the position in 2008 as the corporate sought to enhance its efficiency, and handed the job off to Johnson in 2017. Schultz remained on Starbucks’s board as government chairman till retiring in 2018.


Following Schultz’s return to the corporate final yr, he introduced aboard a brand new senior government specializing in employee relations. The corporate’s common counsel and chief working officer additionally left Starbucks throughout his most up-to-date tenure.

Starbucks mentioned Wednesday that it was appointing Wei Zhang to its board efficient Oct. 1. Zhang, most just lately a senior adviser to Alibaba Group, beforehand served because the president of Alibaba Footage, which has invested in American in recent times.