Starbucks chief of operations leaves as company eliminates role under 'reinvention'

Starbucks chief of operations leaves as company eliminates role under ‘reinvention’

Starbucks Chief Operating Officer John Culver is leaving the company after two decades from the coffee chain, as part of a restructuring that will eliminate his role.

His departure comes in the midst of a wider reshuffle of executives at Starbucks. Former CEO Kevin Johnson retired earlier this year, returning Howard Schultz to the helm of the company as interim CEO until a long-term successor is named.

Effective October 3, Culver will step down from his current position and become an executive advisor until he leaves the company at the end of the year.

Starbucks said it will eliminate the Chief Operating Officer role, with many of Culver’s direct reports being managed by Schultz. Frank Britt, the company’s Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer, will oversee the rest, including its global supply chain and technology divisions.

John Culver, Starbucks

Source: Starbucks

Since his return, Schultz has promised that bold changes are on the way. Investors will hear more details about that strategy at the company’s investor day in Seattle on September 13. Cowen analyst Andrew Charles awarded a 50% chance of the new CEO being announced during the investor presentation in a note to clients on Thursday.

“As we speak with the outside candidates who will be considered for the CEO position, we shared the Reinvention Plan and our ambitions for the future,” Schultz wrote in his letter to employees on Thursday about Culver’s departure. “The candidates are extremely enthusiastic and positive, and they are all happy to see us ahead of the growth curve and reshaping the partner, customer and shopping experience.”

Starbucks has used his position as chief operating officer as a training ground for future chief executives, and Culver has been seen as a potential candidate for the top position. However, Schultz said in June that the company is looking externally for the new chief executive, who is expected to be announced in the fall.

Culver served as chief operating officer and president of the company’s North American operations for just over a year. Prior to that, he oversaw Starbucks’ international, channel development and global coffee, tea and cocoa divisions. Culver also serves on the boards of Columbia Sportswear and Kimberly-Clark.

“Given as our Reinvention is underway, this is the right decision as we chart the course and future path for Starbucks,” Culver wrote in a letter to employees on Thursday.

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