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Starbucks CEO announces retirement, Howard Schultz to return as interim CEO

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Starbucks (SBUX) announced the retirement of CEO Kevin Johnson on Wednesday.

Johnson has worked at the Seattle-based coffee giant for 13 years, serving as CEO since April 2017. The 61-year-old will transition from his current role on April 4, 2022, and will continue to serve as a Starbucks partner and special consultant to the company and Board of Directors through September.

As the company looks for a permeant successor, the Board of Directors appointed founder and former CEO and former executive chairman Howard Schultz as interim CEO, effective April 4th, 2022, with a compensation of $1. He will also rejoin the company’s Board of Directors.

In a letter to all Starbucks Partners titled A message of thanks from Kevin: Starbucks has been a gift in life, Johnson wrote “A year ago, I signaled to the Starbucks Board of Directors that as the pandemic neared an end, I would consider retirement. Well, that day has come.”

Wednesday will be Johnson’s 14th and final Annual Meeting of Shareholders as a Starbucks Partner, he acknowledges in the letter, adding that he feels confident in the road ahead for the coffee chain with Schultz back at the helm of the company on an interim basis.

“As I make this transition, we are very fortunate to have our founder, Howard Schultz, who is able to step in on an interim basis, giving the Board time to further explore potential candidates and make the right long- term succession decision for the company,” Johnson told Starbucks partners.

He added: “When I say that Starbucks has been a gift in my life, I am really talking about all of you — all Starbucks partners, past and present, around the world.”

Shares of Starbucks are down nearly 30 percent year-to-date.