Business

Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz stepping down

Starbucks Corp. says Howard Schultz is stepping down as executive chairman later this month of the coffee chain he joined more than 30 years ago.

Starbucks says Myron E. 'Mike' Ullman will be the new chairman of the board

Schultz oversaw the transformation of Starbucks into a global chain with more than 28,000 locations. (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

Starbucks Corp. says Howard Schultz is stepping down as executive chairman this month of the coffee chain he joined more than 30 years ago.

Schultz, who oversaw the transformation of Starbucks into a global chain with more than 28,000 locations, had left the CEO job at the company last year to focus on innovation and social impact projects.

The Seattle-based chain says Schultz will take the title of chairman emeritus as of June 26, and is writing a book about Starbucks' social impact efforts.

Schultz had often aligned himself and Starbucks with social issues like race and jobs for underprivileged youth — even when those efforts fell flat, like the "Race Together" campaign that encourage workers to talk about race with customers.

More recently, as the company tried to restore its reputation after the arrest of two black men at a coffee shop in Philadelphia, Schultz said he didn't want people to feel "less than" if they were refused bathroom access.

Last week, the company closed its U.S. stores for several hours for bias awareness training, one of the measures it promised after the men in Philadelphia were arrested as they waited for an associate but hadn't bought anything.

Schultz, who had returned as the company's CEO in 2008, was credited with turning around Starbucks' fortunes. He oversaw the expansion of the chain's food and beverage menu and the growth of its popular loyalty program and mobile app.

Starbucks said Myron E. "Mike" Ullman would be the new chairman of the board upon Schultz's retirement.

Schultz, 64, had endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton before the last presidential election and had sometimes deflected questions about whether he would run for office.

"I'll be thinking about a range of options for myself, from philanthropy to public service, but I'm a long way from knowing what the future holds," he said in a letter to employees.

Speculation has swirled for years that Schultz might run for president. While not addressing the question directly, he told The New York Times on Monday that "for some time now, I have been deeply concerned about our country — the growing division at home and our standing in the world."

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