Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan has taken over the reins from founder and interim CEO Howard Schultz two weeks earlier than expected.
Narasimhan was appointed as the company’s chief executive in September 2022 and has since shadowed Schultz, who stepped into the role for the third and final time. Since the start of his tenure at Starbucks, he has focused on working with partners in over 30 stores, manufacturing plants, and support centers worldwide and has been immersing himself in the company’s reinvention plans led by Schultz.
He brings nearly 30 years of experience leading global consumer goods businesses and advising retail, grocery, restaurant, and e-commerce companies.
Under Schultz’s leadership, Starbucks unveiled a company-wide reinvention strategy aimed at investing over $1 billion in retail partners and stores for prioritized areas such as increased pay and sick time accrual, new financial well-being benefits, modernized training and collaboration, store innovation and equipment, and the celebration of coffee.
“I am humbled to officially step into my role as Starbucks chief executive officer, leading our incredible team of more than 450,000 green apron partners around the world. The foundation Howard has laid – building from scratch an iconic global brand fueled by a lasting passion to uplift humanity – is truly remarkable, and I am honored to have the opportunity to build on this deep heritage,” said Narasimhan, who will lead the Starbucks annual shareholder meeting on March 23, 2023.
Narasimhan’s appointment as CEO comes at a time when Starbucks is undergoing a massive transformation, reinventing its stores, and investing in its partners to deliver on the company’s reinvention strategy. At the same time, the company is also continuing to face challenges with unionization efforts.
Recently, NLRB administrative law judge Michael Rosas pointed out that Starbucks had displayed “egregious and widespread misconduct” in handling employees that were part of unionization efforts in Buffalo, New York. The judge said that the company had reportedly sent high-level executives repeatedly to stores in the Buffalo area in its “relentless” pursuit to discourage unionization, which will likely have a lasting impact on the importance of voting against representation.