Starbucks Shares Plunge As CEO Unexpectedly Steps Down

Coffee chain giant Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) late Thursday said that its long-time Chairman & CEO Howard Schultz will be stepping down in a few months.

Effective April 3, Schultz will move to the Executive Chairman position, and Kevin Johnson, who is the current Chief Operating Officer, take over as CEO.

As Executive Chairman, Schultz “will shift his focus to innovation, design and development of Starbucks Reserve Roasteries around the world, expansion of the Starbucks Reserve retail store format and the company’s social impact initiatives,” the company said. Shultz will also remain as chairman of the Board.

Shultz’s roots with Starbucks reach all the way back to 1981, when he joined the fledgling single coffee shop as its marketing head. Under his leadership, the brand grew from a single small store to a massive multinational corporation. He left for a hiatus in the early 2000s but returned as CEO in 2008.

New CEO Kevin Johnson has served as COO since mid 2015, and has overseen many duties of the company in that timeframe.

Starbucks shares fell $2.36 (-4.03%) to $56.15 in after-hours trading on Thursday. Prior to today’s management shake-up, SBUX had already fallen -2.53% year-to-date, versus a +7.7% gain in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

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