Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz will leave his post as the company’s chief executive, the company said Thursday.
Schultz will become the company’s executive chairman, and current President and COO Kevin Johnson will become Starbucks’ next CEO.
The changes will take place on April 3, the company said.
“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. This move ideally positions Starbucks to continue profitably growing our core business around the world into the future,” Schultz said in a news release.
Schultz intends to continue contributing to the company’s “retail innovation and accelerating growth of Starbucks ultra-premium retail formats,” the company said.
But the leadership transition will also spark questions about Schultz’s potential political plans: He has been a supporter of President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and some have already questioned whether he would pursue his own presidential run.
Schultz first joined Starbucks in 1982 as director of operations and marketing when the company only had four stores, according to Starbucks.
This will not be the first time Schultz has vacated the CEO role: He had previously served as the company’s chief executive from 1987 to 2000, but he returned to the position in 2008.
Johnson, who has been the company’s president and chief operating officer, joined Starbucks in 2015, according to his company biography. He has served on the company’s board of directors since 2009.
Johnson previously served as CEO of Juniper Networks and was the president of the platforms division at Microsoft.