Starbucks COO to leave as coffee chain eliminates role in ‘reinvention’

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

His exit comes amid a broader Starbucks management shakeup. Former CEO Kevin Johnson retired earlier this yearleading Howard Schultz to take over management of the company as interim CEO until a long-term successor is appointed.

Effective Oct. 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 would eliminate the COO role, with many of Culver’s direct reports being managed by Schultz. Frank Britt, director of business strategy and transformation, will oversee the rest, including the global supply chain and technology divisions.

John Culver, Starbucks

Source: Starbucks

Since returning, Schultz has promised that bold changes are on the way. Investors will hear more details about this strategy at the company’s Investor Day in Seattle on September 13. Cowen analyst Andrew Charles assigned a 50% chance the new CEO would be announced during the investor presentation in a note to clients on Thursday.

“As we speak to external candidates under consideration for the position of CEO, we have shared the reinvention plan and our aspirations for the future,” Schultz wrote in his letter to employees Thursday regarding Culver’s departure. “The candidates are extremely enthusiastic and positive, and everyone is thrilled to see that we are investing ahead of the growth curve and reimagining the experience for partners, customers and stores.”

Starbucks used his COO role as a training ground for future CEOs, and Culver was seen as a potential candidate for the top job. However, Schultz said in June that the company was looking outside for the new CEO, which 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. Previously, he oversaw the development of Starbucks’ international channels and global coffee, tea and cocoa divisions. Culver is also on the boards of Columbia Sportswear and Kimberly Clark.

“Given where we are with our ongoing reinvention, this is the right decision as we chart the course and future path for Starbucks,” Culver wrote in a letter to employees Thursday.

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