Since the late-1980s, Starbucks has been nearly synonymous with Howard Schultz, the chairman and chief executive officer that was able to turn the rising coffee company into a global food-chain juggernaut. On Thursday, however, Schultz shocked investors when he announced that he would be stepping down from his post to take on a new role as executive chairman, focusing on the company’s rare, small-batch roastery, Starbucks Reserve.
“Starbucks consistently outperforms the retail industry because our stores, our offerings and the experiences our partners create make us a destination,” Schultz said in a statement. “The best evidence of the success of the core strategy driving our business is that we continue to deliver quarter after quarter of record, industry leading revenue, comp sales and profit growth, and that the newest classes of Starbucks stores continue to deliver record-breaking revenues, AUV’s and ROI — both in the U.S. and around the world.”
According to the press release, Schultz will be handing the reins over to Kevin Johnson. A seven-year veteran of Starbucks’ board of directors, Johnson became the company’s president and chief operating officer last year, and will now assume the responsibilities of CEO. Following the announcement, Schultz will continue to serve as chairman of the board.
Still, as Bloomberg notes, Starbuck’s stock fell dramatically Thursday following the announcement of Schultz resignation as CEO. Share rebounded slightly as the day went on, but continued to remain down 3.3 percent.
Schultz originally served as CEO of Starbucks from 1987 to 2000. Then, when announcing his return to the position in 2008, the company’s shares immediately shot up by more than 8 percent, according to CNBC. But beyond the numbers, Schultz has been credited with sparking long-term, international growth for the company, and creating better working conditions for his employees.
Earlier this year, Starbucks baristas received a 5 percent pay raise, and Schultz had begun to relax the company’s notoriously strict dress code.
Though Schultz publicly supported Hillary Clinton—and has had harsh words for Donald Trump—he’s denied rumors that he’s planning a run for the presidency in the future.