The third Howard Schultz era at Starbucks (SBUX) is over. New CEO Laxman Narasimhan has taken the helm of the giant coffee retailer from Schultz almost two weeks earlier than anticipated.
Narasimhan was named incoming CEO Sept. 1, and was to start his new role April 1. However, Starbucks said he’s beginning immediately and will lead the annual shareholder meeting this Thursday.
Narasimhan noted that he was “humbled” in becoming CEO, and indicated that as a “human connection business,” Starbucks has limitless possibilities to deliver for partners, customers, investors, and communities “through every cup and every connection.”
Schultz wrote in a letter to senior leadership that Starbucks is “like a river” that is always growing and changing, “carving a new path and moving forward to something better.” He told them, “You all are the future of Starbucks.”
The ‘Next Starbucks’
Schultz previously led Starbucks from 1986 to 2000, then again from 2008 to 2017. He returned to the company on an interim basis last April, and immediately took steps to shake it up. On his first day back on the job, he told employees Starbucks “is facing new realities in a changed world,” and that he was returning to help design the “next Starbucks.”
Over the past 11 months, Schultz suspended the share repurchase program, restructured management, pumped money into redesigning cafes and stores, and introduced new products.
Shares of Starbucks initially dropped on Schultz’s return, hitting a two-year low in May. However, since then, they jumped more than 42%. They were up 1% today.