Starbucks' Howard Schultz talks about the hunt for his replacement

Schultz will continue to serve on Starbucks' board following the transition

Starbucks is hard at work trying to find the next chief executive officer who can take over the reins from interim CEO Howard Schultz in 2023.

Schultz recently told the Wall Street Journal that the company needs "a different type of leader" with "a domain of experience and expertise in a number of disciplines that we don't have now." He emphasized that the company is only looking at external applicants and that there are several viable CEO candidates under consideration.

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According to the Journal, Schultz has also asked some company veterans to leave to make room for "fresh blood," including its chief human resources officer, executive vice president of public affairs and senior vice president of public policy. 


Schultz, the coffee giant's fourth-largest shareholder, has temporarily jumped back into the role after serving from 1986 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2017. He has been filling in since April 4 following former CEO Kevin Johnson's retirement in March. 

He will serve as interim CEO through the first quarter of 2023.  Following the transition, he will continue to serve on Starbucks' board.

"This timeline provides the company the ideal runway for a seamless transition and continuity of leadership through the 2022 holiday season, as the business transformation continues," Starbucks said in a blog post on Monday. 

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz presents during the Starbucks Investor Day meeting in New York, Dec. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Richard Drew / AP Newsroom)

Schultz, who has denied speculation from investors and Wall Street analysts that he will stay in the role long-term, has been engaging with employees of all levels and working directly with the company's leadership team to reimagine its future strategy. 


Starbucks' search for a new chief executive comes amid a host of challenges, including the company's growing unionization push.

Starbucks workers union

Starbucks employees and supporters react as votes are read during a union-election watch party on Dec. 9, 2021, in Buffalo, New York. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File / AP Images)

According to the National Labor Relations Board, 113 of the company's 9,000 U.S. stores have voted in favor of unionizing to date. Out of the 113 stores, 79 locations have been certified for a union. Since Schultz stepped in on April 4, 111 stores have filed petitions to form a union.

Starbucks Workers United said in a news release on Thursday that around 180 unfair labor practice charges have been filed with the NLRB. Starbucks is accused of using "illegal anti-union tactics to intimidate and punish partners for organizing," which the company has denied. 


In addition to the unionizing effort, Schultz reportedly warned that the company's next leader will have to be careful and consistent when it comes to national issues and political stances, citing Disney CEO Bob Chapek's shift in response to Florida's Parental Rights in Education Bill. 

"In the environment we are in now, I don’t think a company or CEO can hide," Schultz told the outlet. 

A spokesperson for Disney did not immediately return FOX Business' request for comment, though the company has previously apologized to employees for not taking a stand sooner and said it would pause political giving.  

Since Schultz's return, Starbucks has suspended stock repurchases and refocused its capital on employees. The company has pledged to invest $1 billion throughout fiscal year 2022, to enhance pay, modernize training and collaboration, and innovate its stores. 

In addition, the company said it would leave the Russian market following the country's invasion of Ukraine, joined a list of companies covering travel expenses for employees seeking out-of-state abortions, and urged lawmakers to come together and create bipartisan solutions to address gun violence. 

Shares of Starbucks have fallen about 30% year-to-date.