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Starbucks brings back another vet for top post

SEATTLE Another key executive from Starbucks’ fast-growth days is returning to duty. Arthur Rubenfeld has rejoined the chain in the newly created post of president of global development, with responsibility for site selection, design and “creative concepting,” according to the brand’s parent, Starbucks Corp.

Rubenfeld previously was chief development officer and executive vice president of corporate strategy for Potbelly Sandwich Works, the Chicago-based fast-casual sandwich chain whose growth has been financed in part by Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ chairman and chief executive.

Rubenfeld had been Starbucks’ executive vice president for store development from 1992 through 2001, when the coffee chain grew to 4,000 units from 100 stores.

“Arthur’s past success, extensive experience, knowledge of the business and Starbucks culture will provide the foundation and leadership we need to executive the Transformation Agenda and support our long-term success,” said Schultz, who also was Starbucks’ leader during Rubenfeld’s prior tenure.

The Transformation Agenda is Schultz’s plan for rejuvenating the company during the next year in part by cutting staff, with the intent of eliminating bureaucracy, and refocusing operations on the customer. It was undertaken when Schultz himself stepped back into day-to-day management of the company in January, replacing Jim Donald as CEO while retaining his duties as chairman.

Last week, Starbucks announced that 600 positions in regional offices and the company’s headquarters here have been eliminated.

The coffee giant has been struggling recently to firm up traffic on a per-store basis.

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