Starbucks to eliminate chief operating officer role

COO John Culver will serve in an advisory role starting Oct. 1 and leave on Jan. 1, 2023.

Starbucks will eliminate its chief operating officer role at the end of its current fiscal year as part of a broader restructuring at the world's largest coffeehouse company.

Current chief operating officer John Culver will depart on Jan. 1, 2023. Culver, who has spent two decades at Starbucks, will serve in an advisory capacity starting Oct. 1. 

Prior to his current role, Culver was president of Starbucks' International, Channel Development and Global Coffee, Tea & Cocoa groups. He also serves on the boards of Columbia Sportswear Company and Kimberly-Clark.

Starbucks chief operating officer John Culver

John Culver, who spent two decades at Starbucks, will serve in an advisory capacity starting Oct. 1 and depart the company on Jan. 1, 2023. (Starbucks)

"Over the last several months, I have worked closely with Howard and members of the executive leadership team to set in place the foundation for our reinvention, while we plan for the next chapter of leadership at Starbucks," Culver wrote in a letter to employees. "Given the moment we find ourselves in with our Reinvention underway, this is the right decision as we chart the course and the future path for Starbucks."

Under the separation agreement, Culver will receive $3.75 million in severance, time and performance-based restricted stock units and other benefits. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
SBUX STARBUCKS CORP. 92.00 -0.74 -0.80%

The elimination of the COO role comes as Starbucks undergoes a search for a new chief executive. Former CEO Kevin Johnson retired in April. The company is currently being overseen on an interim basis by Starbucks chair Howard Schultz.

Howard Schultz

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, speaks during the company's annual shareholders meeting in Seattle, Washington March 19, 2014. REUTERS/David Ryder (REUTERS/David Ryder / Reuters Photos)

"As we speak to the external candidates in consideration for the CEO position, we’ve shared the Reinvention Plan and our aspirations for the future," Schultz said in a message to staff. "The candidates are extremely excited and positive, and each is pleased to see we are investing ahead of the growth curve, and reimagining the partner, customer and store experience. Each leader in consideration sees the equity and power of the brand."


Beginning Aug. 22, the following employees will report to Starbucks' Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer Frank Britt:

  • AJ Jones II, Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer
  • Deb Hall Lefevre, Chief Technology Officer
  • Sara Kelly, Chief Partner Officer
  • George Dowdie, Executive Vice President of Global Supply Chain
  • Nick Bowles, Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development
  • Sandy Stark, Senior Vice President of Data Analytics & Insights and Business Operations

Dowdie, who will leave Starbucks to focus on board and scientific advisory work, will continue in his current role through the end of 2022.


Meanwhile, starting on Oct. 3, the following employees will report to Schultz and ultimately transition to the company's new CEO when they are fully in place:

  • Andy Adams, Senior Vice President of Global Growth & Concepts
  • Brady Brewer, Chief Marketing Officer
  • Dennis Brockman, Senior Vice President of Inclusion & Diversity
  • Sara Trilling, North America Retail President


Investors will learn more about Starbucks' future strategy and receive a comprehensive update on the company's fiscal year 2023 business outlook at its Investor Day in Seattle on Sept. 13.

Earlier this month, Starbucks reported third quarter revenue up 9% to $8.2 billion. Global comparable store sales grew 3% for the three months ended July 3. Net revenue fell 21% to $913 million.