Starbucks Corp. chief operating officer Troy Alstead is taking an extended unpaid leave beginning in March, the company said Thursday.
The company gave no explanation for the planned departure of Alstead, a 23-year Starbucks veteran who has long been seen as a possible handpicked successor to chairman, president and chief executive Howard Schultz.
Alstead and Schultz will offer details on a transition plan during the Seattle-based company’s first-quarter earnings call, which is scheduled for Jan. 22.
About a year ago, Alstead was promoted to the COO role after Schultz said he planned to step away from daily operations to focus on big-picture issues. The second-in-command previously served as the company’s chief financial officer and global business services group president.
From 2008 to 2013, Alstead was Starbucks’ chief financial officer and chief administrative officer.
Alstead joined the company in 1992, when Starbucks had about 100 locations. Over the next two decades, he held several management and finance positions for both the domestic and international businesses, including serving at one point as senior vice president of Starbucks Coffee International, and later as chief operating officer for greater China.
In a statement, Schultz gave a glowing account of Alstead’s service.
“Looking back on the 23 years we spent together side-by-side as Starbucks colleagues, I can recall so many memorable moments and accomplishments in which Troy can take pride in a job well done,” Schultz said. “Troy is a beloved Starbucks partner and has played an invaluable role in our growth as an enterprise and in the development of our culture as a performance-driven company balanced with a humanity unique for our industry. Troy’s humanity and humility will be missed and we wish him the best.”
The announcement follows the unveiling in early December of an ambitious five-year plan that includes the launch of mobile ordering and delivery service, the projected doubling of food sales in the U.S. and aggressive growth around the world.
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