Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz Stepping Down To Focus On Upscale Coffee

After eight years as the man behind the morning cup of joe for many millions of coffee drinkers, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has decided to step aside and let someone else run the coffee colossus.

According to Starbucks, Schultz will officially end his ride as CEO in April 2017, handing the reins over to the company’s president and chief operating office, Kevin Johnson (the guy on the left in the above photo).

Johnson, who has been a member of the Starbucks Board of Directors for seven years, will assume the role and responsibilities of president and chief executive officer, effective April 3, 2017.

Schultz isn’t leaving the company, however. Starbucks says that he will be appointed executive chairman and will continue to serve as Chairman of the Board.

Instead of focusing on day-to-day operations, Schultz’s new position will entail working on innovation, design, and development of the company’s upscale Reserve Roasteries division, which has become a pet project of sorts for Schultz.

Last month, the company announced the chain was planning to open 1,000 of those mini cafes within Starbucks cafes by the end of 2017. That could be more feasible now with Schultz’s full attention on the program.

“This move ideally positions Starbucks to continue profitably growing our core business around the world into the future,” Schultz said in a statement.

Building out the Reserve division makes sense for Schultz, who has a long history with Starbucks. According to the Wall Street Journal, he joined the company in 1982 as its marketing director.

He left the company just four years later to start his own coffee business called Il Giornale. However, he later returned to Starbucks by way of buying the company from its previous owners. He then renamed his business Starbucks and the rapid expansion of coffee shops began.

As for Johnson, he says he’s the right man for the head honcho job.

“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,” the former tech industry executive said in a statement. “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.”