Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX) has announced that Howard Schultz will be stepping down as executive chairman and member of the Board of Directors at the end of the month, on June 26, 2018. He will be honored with the title of chairman emeritus upon stepping down from his position.
Schultz has served as CEO and chairman for four decades, expanding the company from just 11 stores to over 28,000 stores in 77 countries. Starbucks has gained a monumental 21,000% in the value of its stock prices under Schultz leadership since the company’s IPO in 1992. The growth can be attributed to his progressive approach to running the company, such as healthcare coverage, stock ownership, and full tuition coverage for all employees, regardless of part time or full time employment.
“I set out to build a company that my father, a blue-collar worker and World War II veteran, never had a chance to work for,” Schultz wrote in a letter to past and present Starbucks partners. “Together we’ve done that, and so much more, by balancing profitability and social conscience, compassion and rigor, and love and responsibility.”
Schultz joined Starbucks in 1982 as the director of operations and marketing. During a business trip to Italy in 1983, he was enthralled by what he saw: a sense of community, romance and theater found in Italian coffee bars. With the support of local investors, Schultz was able to acquire Starbucks and began to turn his vision of a modern coffee house into a reality around the world.
According to a Starbucks press release, Myron E. “Mike” Ullman has been appointed as the new chairman of the Board and Mellody Hobson will be appointed as vice chairwoman upon Schultz’s retirement.
“Howard proved that a company could be more successful and profitable by elevating humanity,” said Mellody Hobson.
Among the many accolades Schultz has received, he has been named one of The World’s Most Influential People by Time Magazine, Business Person of the Year by Fortune, and most recently, he received the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award. He has also received the Atlantic Council’s Distinguished Business Leadership award and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund National Equal Justice award.
Fortune ranked Starbucks as the fifth most admired company in the world, making this year the 16th consecutive year that the company has made it to the list. The global coffee chain was also named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute for the 12th consecutive year and ranked as one the Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company in 2018.
Schultz’s decision to leave the company now despite the incident that occurred in a Philadelphia Starbucks store, where two black men were arrested after waiting inside the store for not making a purchase, demonstrates the confidence he has in the company’s management and board.
“There are no words to fully express our gratitude to Howard for the extraordinary company he has built,” said current Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson. “He’s helped Starbucks earn the respect of millions around the world by always being true to a higher calling, and always being bold in creating a better future. He’s taught all of us that it’s possible to be a very different kind of public company. That must, and will, continue on my watch.”
Schultz entered the the first ever Starbucks location early Monday to write on the wall next to an espresso bar he installed himself in 1987, which read: “This is where it all began. My dream to build a company that fosters respect and dignity and create a place where we can all come together over a cup of coffee. Onward with love.”