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Laxman Narasimhan Replaces Schultz as Starbucks CEO Nearly Two Weeks Early


New Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan. Starbucks press photo.

Laxman Narasimhan is taking over as CEO of Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks, 11 days earlier than initially planned.

The former CEO of multinational consumer goods company Reckitt — whose vast portfolio of global brands include Clearasil, Durex and Enfamil — Narasimhan takes over for Howard Schultz beginning today, the company announced.

Narasimhan, who has also held numerous executive roles with PepsiCo, was named incoming CEO last September. The new CEO, who was initially scheduled to officially take the reins in April, will be leading the company’s shareholders meeting this Thursday, March 23.

Narasimhan’s appointment comes nine days before Schultz is expected to testify in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee regarding Starbucks’ labor practices.

The company has been at the forefront of the organized labor movement since the pandemic area, with hundreds of individual Starbucks locations across the United States voting to unionize over the past two years. Earlier this month, a National Labor Relations Board judge determined the company committed “egregious and widespread misconduct” in New York State.

Starbucks cafe

A Starbucks Cafe. Stock photo.

Schultz, a business celebrity who helped grow the Starbucks brand globally before flirting with a 2020 presidential bid following his 2017 retirement, returned to the CEO position in March 2022 on an interim basis for a salary of $1. He took over for CEO Kevin Johnson.

In a publicly posted letter to the company’s leadership today, Schultz urged them to “lean into the joy.”

“There is so much joy,” Schultz wrote. “Every single interaction that we have as partners and that we have with customers is an opportunity for meaningful connection. It adds up to a limitless capacity for joy, love and support, with the center being Starbucks. Remember that.”

Starbucks posted record sales last quarter.

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