Starbucks announces new CEO

·2 min read

Starbucks on Thursday announced Laxman Narasimhan as the coffee giant’s next CEO.

Narasimhan has served for three years as the CEO of health product company Reckitt, which owns brands like Lysol and Mead Johnson. Reckitt announced earlier on Thursday that Narasimhan was stepping down at the end of the month to relocate to the United States.

He will join Starbucks on Oct. 1 and assume the CEO role, as well as a position on the company’s board six months later, taking over the company’s operations as it faces a wave of union campaigns at its locations across the country.

Starbucks said in a statement that Narasimhan will spend time with interim CEO Howard Schultz and other executives during the transition, and Schultz will continue on the board once Narasimhan becomes the coffee giant’s top executive on April 1.

“When I learned about Laxman’s desire to relocate, it became apparent that he is the right leader to take Starbucks into its next chapter,” Schultz said in a statement. “He is uniquely positioned to shape this work and lead the company forward with his partner-centered approach and demonstrated track record of building capabilities and driving growth in both mature and emerging markets.”

In announcing Narasimhan’s departure, Reckitt said he led a “successful rejuvenation” of the company’s strategy, but he wanted to relocate back to the United States for personal and family reasons. Narasimhan also previously served in various leadership roles at PepsiCo.

“Starbucks commitment to uplift humanity through connection and compassion has long distinguished the company, building an unrivaled, globally admired brand that has transformed the way we connect over coffee,” Narasimhan said in a statement. “I am humbled to be joining this iconic company at such a pivotal time, as the reinvention and investments in the partner and customer experiences position us to meet the changing demands we face today and set us up for an even stronger future.”

Narasimhan joins Starbucks as the company faces a wave of union campaigns that began in December, when a store in Buffalo became the first of Starbucks’s U.S. locations to unionize.

More than 200 other locations have followed suit, and Starbucks has attempted to stymie those efforts, at times leading to battles in court. In some cases, Starbucks was found to have violated federal labor laws.

Starbucks Workers United, which represents the baristas that have unionized, called on Narasimhan to end what it described as “union-busting tactics” by the company.

“We are hopeful that Mr. Narasimhan will end Starbucks’ scorched earth union-busting campaign and work with all Starbucks partners to make Starbucks a better company and better place to work,” Starbucks Workers United organizing member Michelle Eisen said in a statement. “This is the perfect opportunity for Starbucks to end the wrongful terminations, store closings and war against workers, and instead embrace our union and sign the Fair Election Principles.”

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