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Laxman Narasimhan begins role as Starbucks new CEO

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Laxman Narasimhan officially took over as Starbucks' CEO Oct. 1, but changes to the company won't be coming along too quickly as the new leader is phased in.

“Starbucks commitment to uplift humanity through connection and compassion has long distinguished the company, building an unrivaled, globally admired brand that has transformed the way we connect over coffee," Narasimhan said in a statement. "I am humbled to be joining this iconic company at such a pivotal time, as the Reinvention and investments in the partner and customer experiences position us to meet the changing demands we face today and set us up for an even stronger future. I look forward to working closely with Howard, the Board, and the entire leadership team — and to listening and learning from Starbucks partners — as we collectively build on this work to lead the company into its next chapter of growth and impact.”

Narasimhan replaces Howard Schultz, who returned as interim CEO earlier this year after the previous CEO, Kevin Johnson, retired. Johnson spent five years leading the global coffee giant. Schultz returned to the company to fill in until a new CEO could be hired. He was paid a $1 salary.

Narasimhan relocated from London to Seattle for the job. He is now also a member of the Starbucks board of directors.

Previously, Narasimhan held leadership roles with PepsiCo and served as the CEO of Reckitt, a multinational consumer heath, hygiene, and nutrition company. Starbucks says he "has a proven track record in developing purpose-led brands."

Schultz will stay on the board of directors. He's also not entirely absent from the company's leadership. According to Starbucks, Schultz will continue as interim CEO and remain in Narasimhan's orbit over the next few months to help phase in the new CEO. This process will include hanging out in Starbucks stores, as well as visiting farms and manufacturing plants.

Narasimhan will officially, fully step into the role on April 1, 2023.

In a statement, Schultz said Narasimhan is the "right leader to take Starbucks into its next chapter."

"He is uniquely positioned to shape this work and lead the company forward with his partner-centered approach and demonstrated track record of building capabilities and driving growth in both mature and emerging markets," Shultz said. "As I have had the opportunity to get to know him, it has become clear that he shares our passion of investing in humanity and in our commitment to our partners, customers, and communities. The perspectives he brings will be a strong asset as we build on our heritage in this new era of greater well-being. I greatly look forward to our partnership over the coming months and years."

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