Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz revealed on Thursday that he will leave his post as the company’s chief executive, handing off the position to President and COO Kevin Johnson.
“What was clear was Kevin’s ability,” Schultz said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box“, “He is much better prepared to managed the global operations.”
The changes will take place on April 3 and will allow Schultz to focus on turning Starbucks’ Reserve-branded coffee bars into destination restaurants.
“I can’t try to be Howard. I’m not Howard.” Johnson said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box“, explaining that he needs to authentic in his new role.
Schultz first joined Starbucks in 1982 as director of operations and marketing when the company only had four stores, according to Starbucks. Over time he grew it into a iconic brand, with over 25,000 stores in 75 countries.
This will not be the first time Schultz has vacated the CEO role: He had previously served as the company’s chief executive from 1987 to 2000, but he returned to the position in 2008.
Schultz, who is seen as a visionary leader, will remain at the company as executive chairman.
“We are not surprised that Mr. Schultz has chosen to step back from day-to-day operations and that Mr. Johnson was appointed his replacement, but we view the timing as notable given the heightened level of strategic endeavors the company currently has ongoing,” Mark Astrachan, an analyst with Stifel wrote in a research note Thursday.
Johnson joined the Starbucks’ management team in 2015 and has served on the board of directors since 2009.
Shares of Starbucks are currently trading down 3.6 percent at about $56.37.
“The negative initial perception (and stock reaction) to the leadership transition is understandable and the timing likely will raise questions,” an analyst at BMO said. “The transition of Howard Schultz, the visionary at the core of Starbucks’ success over time, away from the CEO role is likely to create a sense of trepidation among investors, particularly given the eventual deterioration in the company’s performance after he last stepped down from the position.”