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The former Starbucks CEO is coming back to Starbucks. Here’s why

Howard Schultz will replace the current CEO, who is stepping down

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Howard Schultz speaks in Seattle.

Howard Schultz speaks at an event to promote his book, “From the Ground Up,” in Seattle on Jan. 31, 2019. The former Starbucks CEO is returning to the company.

Ted S. Warren, Associated Press

Former longtime Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will return to the company on an interim basis as recent CEO Kevin Johnson plans to step down.

Why it matters: Schultz will take over for Starbucks as it plans to move past the COVID-19 pandemic and as there has been a rise in unions for barista workers, per The Wall Street Journal.

What’s happening: Starbucks said Johnson will step down from his post after a five-year stint at the top of the company.

  • Johnson, who is CEO and a board director, will retire from his position on April 4.
  • However, Johnson will remain a key adviser, per WSJ.
  • Schultz will then take over as an interim CEO.

What they’re saying: “A year ago, I signaled to the Board that as the global pandemic neared an end, I would be considering retirement from Starbucks. I feel this is a natural bookend to my 13 years with the company,” Johnson said in a statement, per CNBC.

The backstory: Schultz previously served as CEO from 1986 to 2000, per Forbes. He later returned to the position from 2008 to 2017.

  • The company said Schultz — who is a multibillionaire — will make $1 in salary, per Forbes.

What’s next: Starbucks plans to hire a full-time CEO by the fall.

  • “We’re not going to hire over Zoom, I can tell you that,” the chair of Starbucks’ board, Mellody Hobson, told CNBC.