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Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks at the company's annual shareholders meeting in Seattle. (GeekWire File Photo)
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Seattle. (GeekWire File Photo)

Starbucks announced a series of organizational shifts Monday that will see CEO Howard Schultz focusing on long-term projects, and president and chief operating officer Kevin Johnson running the coffee giant’s core business and leadership team.

Kevin Johnson, Starbucks President and COO
Kevin Johnson, Starbucks President and COO

Starting Sept. 1, Schultz said in a letter to Starbucks employees that he will concentrate his efforts on long-term initiatives, including Roastery and Reserve Tasting Rooms, Starbucks Reserve stores and the company’s partnership with Italian restaurant Princi. The Roastery in particular has been a big success for Starbucks, and the company wants to add more of them around the world.

“What we have created with the Roastery is the most dynamic, immersive retail experience the industry has ever seen. With its stunning success, we will now accelerate and globalize the Roastery experience, building more roasteries in iconic cities, and threading the Roastery experience into hundreds of new coffee-forward Reserve stores around the world,” Schultz said in the letter.

Schultz said these initiatives will fall under a new department called Siren Retail. It will be lead by Cliff Burrows, who has been in charge of Starbucks Americas business for the last eight years. The Siren unit will focus on roasteries, reserve stores, implementing the Princi partnership, building out standalone Princi stores and growing the Teavana business.

Johnson, who spent 16 years at Microsoft, where he held many senior executive positions, will be in charge of the company’s leadership team and growing its core retail business.

“Kevin and I will continue our daily collaborative relationship, calling upon our complementary skills to lead the company. My faith and confidence in Kevin is unwavering. A true servant leader, Kevin is culturally aligned with Starbucks, and I know how much trust and respect he has earned from all of you,” Schultz said in the letter.

John Culver, group president of China/Asia Pacific, channel development and emerging brands, will take on the role of group president of Starbucks Global Retail, where he will be responsible for global retail operations. The letter from Schultz says Adam Brotman, Starbucks’ longtime chief digital officer, “will assume a new operational role, applying his innovative acumen to supercharge the integration of digital technology into our stores worldwide.”

Here’s the full letter from Schultz, as posted on the Starbucks Newsroom.

Dear partners,

As I look to our next quarter and beyond, I am filled with an exceptional level of determination and optimism about the future of the company.

Together we have created a global brand and an iconic retail experience that has resonated with customers and succeeded all over the world. And we have built a company based on a set of values and guiding principles that have endured over time.

As I’ve recently expressed, the Starbucks journey is about trust. We earn trust in how we show up for each other. We build trust in how each of us connects with our customers and the communities we serve. We demonstrate trust in how we lead. In our fragile world, where trust is being tested in so many ways, I believe it’s never been more important for Starbucks to be the best version of ourselves—a Third Place that offers a sense of community and human connection to so many.

Today, we are determined to set an even higher bar for what we can achieve as we reinvent the role and responsibility of a for-profit public company. The journey we are on connects us all. As leaders, everything we do must be deeply personal as we fulfill our responsibility to the 300,000 partners, and their families, who proudly wear the green apron and deliver the quintessential Starbucks experience all over the globe.

Elevating our Brand, Business and Leadership

Recently, our senior leadership team and the Starbucks Board of Directors approved a long-term strategic plan that will further elevate the company. Our plan does not embrace the status quo. In fact, the plan will require a higher level of thoughtfulness, creativity and discipline than at any other time in our history.

To be among the world’s most respected and enduring companies, we must constantly look around corners and let our curiosity and courage drive innovation. With this mindset and purpose, I have no doubt we can continue to grow the company sustainably, and in ways that will continue to make us all proud.

Today, we are announcing a set of organizational changes so we may begin the next phase of our growth and development. These changes will ensure we continue to reaffirm our leadership in all things coffee, enhance the partner experience and exceed the expectations of our customers and shareholders while using our scale for good to maximize our social impact.

Going forward, I will intensify my focus on our overall long-term strategy and innovation. When the Roastery opened in Seattle, I said it was a metaphor for our company in showcasing elevated levels of coffee innovation, design creativity and customer experience. What we have created with the Roastery is the most dynamic, immersive retail experience the industry has ever seen. With its stunning success, we will now accelerate and globalize the Roastery experience, building more roasteries in iconic cities, and threading the Roastery experience into hundreds of new coffee-forward Reserve stores around the world, which also will integrate the spectacular culinary experience of our new Italian food partner, Princi.

In the new organizational structure, I will continue to work side-by-side with Matt Ryan on strategy, whose intelligence and insight I deeply value. I also will work directly with Cliff Burrows, whose new role will include overseeing the global expansion of the Roastery, as well as the development of Starbucks Reserve stores. In addition, I’ll be working closely with Liz Muller, whose creative genius is already focused on new Roasteries in New York City, Shanghai and other cities yet to be announced; Andy Adams, who is doing a fantastic job leading global real estate and development; and Vivek Varma, a trusted advisor who is a relentless force in bringing our social conscience and values to life.

Cliff’s move in particular is a big change, and I am delighted that, after eight years of successfully leading the Americas business, he will head up a new retail group we are calling Siren Retail. In addition to the Roastery and Reserve stores, Cliff will be responsible for building out the Princi organization, including stand-alone Princi stores, and growing the Teavana business globally. I know Cliff will bring his superior operational expertise and integrity to his new role.

With my priorities driven by the Roasteries, Reserve Stores, Princi and building a new premium business unit within Starbucks, Kevin Johnson’s priorities will continue to be on growing our core Starbucks business, channel development and the functional teams that support the company. For eight years, Kevin has been a partner to Starbucks, beginning as a member of the board during the Transformation. With Kevin as president and chief operating officer, Starbucks has further embraced technology that strengthens our customer connection and unlocks agility across the company.

As we continue to pursue our aspirations, Kevin will lead the SLT and we are fortunate to have a very talented group of leaders who are aligned for the future. In addition to John Culver and Michael Conwayleading our core business segments, Kevin’s team also includes these critical business functions: Hans Melotte leading supply chain; Sharon Rothstein leading marketing; Craig Russell leading coffee; Scott Pitasky leading partner resources; Lucy Helm leading legal and compliance; Scott Maw leading finance; and Gerri Martin-Flickinger leading technology. Gerri, whose expertise has been a valued asset since she joined Starbucks, will now oversee the end-to-end technology platform that powers our digital flywheel, with Matt Ryan also leading all business aspects of the digital flywheel and Rewards.

Kevin and I will continue our daily collaborative relationship, calling upon our complementary skills to lead the company. My faith and confidence in Kevin is unwavering. A true servant leader, Kevin is culturally aligned with Starbucks, and I know how much trust and respect he has earned from all of you.

Moving forward, Kevin and I have decided the company needs fully-dedicated leadership to create a true global retail organization. To lead this effort, I am pleased to announce that John Culver, a 14-year Starbucks partner whose talent and character are widely respected, will assume the role of group president, Starbucks Global Retail, with responsibility for Starbucks retail sales around the world. Reporting directly to John will be the senior leaders overseeing the EMEA and CAP regions, as well as the Americas company-operated and licensed stores. As part of John’s new organization, Adam Brotman will assume a new operational role, applying his innovative acumen to supercharge the integration of digital technology into our stores worldwide.

Partners, these organizational changes, effective September 1, will prepare us to achieve our highest aspirations, and my confidence in all of you could not be greater. Our ongoing commitment to our mission, values and guiding principles also will ensure we never lose sight of our potential to elevate the human spirit.

As we continue to do everything we can to share our success with you, I thank you for your commitment and look forward to being your partner on this next phase of our journey.

Onward,

Howard

 

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