Howard Schultz
Kevin Johnson (left), president and COO of Starbucks will become president and CEO after Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO, steps down. 

SEATTLE — Howard Schultz, currently chairman and chief executive officer for Starbucks Corp., will step down as CEO and become executive chairman on April 3, 2017, the company said Dec. 1. He will shift his focus to innovation, design and development of Starbucks Reserve roasteries around the world, expansion of the Starbucks Reserve retail store format, and the company’s social impact initiatives.

Kevin Johnson, currently president and chief operating officer, will become president and CEO on April 3. A seven-year member of the Starbucks board of directors, Johnson has been president and COO since March 2015. He has led the company’s global operating businesses across all geographies as well as the core support functions of Starbucks supply chain, marketing, human resources, technology, and mobile and digital platforms.

“As I focus on Starbucks next wave of retail innovation, I am delighted that Kevin Johnson — our current president, COO, a seven-year board member and my partner in running every facet of Starbucks business over the last two years — has agreed to assume the duties of Starbucks chief executive officer,” Schultz said. “This move ideally positions Starbucks to continue profitably growing our core business around the world into the future.”

Schultz said he will shift his focus to innovation, design and development of Starbucks Reserve roasteries around the world. 

Johnson has 33 years of experience in the technology industry, including a 16-year career at Microsoft and a five-year stint as CEO of Juniper Networks. He was appointed to the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee in 2008, serving the presidential administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Johnson received a bachelor’s of arts degree in business administration from New Mexico State Univ.

“Over the past two decades, I have grown to know Starbucks first as a customer, then as a director on the board, and for the past two years as a member of the management team,” Johnson said. “Through that journey, I fell in love with Starbucks, and I share Howard’s commitment to our mission and values and his optimism for the future.

“It is an honor for me to serve the more than 300,000 partners who proudly wear the green apron, and I consider it a privilege to work side-by-side with Howard, our world-class board of directors and a very talented leadership team. Together, we will reaffirm our leadership in all things coffee, enhance the partner experience and exceed the expectations of our customers and shareholders. We believe in using our scale for good and having positive social impact in the communities we serve around the world.”

Schultz joined Starbucks as director of operations and marketing in 1982, a time when Starbucks had four stores. He became chairman in 2000 and president and CEO in 2008. Starbucks now has more than 25,000 stores in 75 countries. Schultz received a bachelor’s degree from Northern Michigan Univ.