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New Starbucks CEO takes the reins almost two weeks earlier than expected

Laxman Narasimhan is starting as CEO on March 20th, ahead of his expected April 1 start date, but Howard Schultz will still testify before Congress

Laxman Narasimhan is officially the CEO of Starbucks, taking the helm from interim CEO Howard Schultz nearly two weeks earlier than expected, according to a Monday morning announcement from the company. Narasimhan — who was announced as Schultz’s successor in Sept. 2022 and was supposed to start on April 1 — will now lead the company’s shareholders’ meeting this week. Schultz is still expected to testify in front of a Senate panel led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) about the accusations of union-busting against the company.

This will be the third time company founder Howard Schultz is stepping down as CEO in Starbucks’ history, and according to CNBC, his last.

Before joining Starbucks, Narasimhan held multiple executive leadership roles within PepsiCo, including global chief commercial officer, CEO of PepsiCo Latin America, and CFO of PepsiCo Americas Foods. Most recently, he served as CEO of Reckitt, a FTSE-12 listed multinational consumer health, hygiene and nutrition company.

According to Starbucks, Narasimhan officially joined the company on Oct. 1, and has spent the last five months learning on the job in various capacities, including earning his barista certification.

“I am humbled to officially step into my role as Starbucks chief executive officer, leading our incredible team of more than 450,000 green apron partners around the world,” Narasimhan said in a statement. “The foundation Howard has laid – building from scratch an iconic global brand fueled by a lasting passion to uplift humanity – is truly remarkable, and I am honored to have the opportunity to build on this deep heritage.”

Starbucks clarified that the reason Narasimhan is starting earlier is because he was already set to lead the annual shareholders meeting, so it only made sense to move up his official start date as CEO.

Schultz talked about stepping down as CEO again in a letter to the senior leadership team sent on Monday:

“Starbucks truly has been my life‘s work – but more than that, it’s always been about the lives of the millions of partners over the years who have proudly worn the green apron and it’s about the hundreds of thousands more who will join Starbucks in the years to come,” Schultz said in his letter. “[…] As I turn Starbucks over to you now, know that you have my utmost confidence, trust and love. You all are the future of Starbucks.”

 Narasimhan will be taking the helms at a precarious time in the company, as many of the legal complaints of union-busting come to a head in courts around the country.

Contact Joanna at [email protected]


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