Breaking News: StarBucks CEO, Howard Schultz, steps down

For the Business-minded, This is Breaking News!

Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz is stepping down as CEO of the coffee chain he joined more than 30 years ago and transformed into a globally known brand.

Schultz will become executive chairman in April to focus on innovation such as high-end shops and social impact activities, the Seattle-based chain announced Thursday. Kevin Johnson, who was named president and chief operating officer last year, will be chief executive as of April 3.

Since returning as the company's CEO in 2008, Schultz is credited with turning around Starbucks' fortunes. He has overseen the expansion of the chain's food and beverage offerings and the growth of its popular loyalty program and mobile app.

Starbucks has credited the rewards program and app for helping consistently increase sales in the U.S., although growth has slowed more recently and traffic slipped in the latest quarter. Schultz has said such technology adaptions will become increasingly critical for brick-and-mortar retail businesses to thrive as shopping habits change.

Investor concerns about the change sent shares of Starbucks down 3.6 percent to $56.41 in after-hours trading.

During a conference call about the CEO announcement, an analyst called Schultz a "master merchant" who has been able to determine and even stimulate "what the Starbucks customer wants and needs" and asked if that "merchant gene" would still be present in those leading the company. Another noted that Starbucks struggled after Schultz stepped away as CEO in 2000, and asked what was different this time.

Schultz, 63, said Starbucks has built a strong leadership team in recent years. He also noted that he is not leaving the company, and will be working on developing the Starbucks Reserve Roasteries, which are high-end retail concepts featuring coffee beans and drinks like "cold brew" coffee. Schultz called it the "next wave of retail innovation."

And that is all from the man in the eye of the storm, see more Here

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