Starbucks appoints Laxman Narasimhan as its next CEO

New York
CNN Business

Starbucks has named Laxman Narasimhan its next CEO.

Narasimhan will become Starbucks’ new CEO on October 1. He will officially take office in April and will also join the company’s board of directors.

The Reckitt Benckiser Group, of which Narasimhan was most recently CEO, announced He will step down early Thursday.

Howard Schultz, who took over from outgoing CEO Kevin Johnson in an interim capacity last spring, will remain as interim CEO throughout the transition. He will remain on the Starbucks board.

Narasimhan takes over at Starbucks at a pivotal time.

In the US, the company is trying to fend off a wave of unions in the US. Meanwhile, strict Covid-19 restrictions have been hurting the company’s business in China, an important market.

Laxman Narasimhan will be the new CEO of Starbucks.

In the six months before Narasimhan officially takes office, he will spend time with Schultz, other company leaders, employees and customers, and familiarize himself with Schultz’s recent remodeling plan, which Schultz has said the company needs an overhaul.

“The Starbucks business built today does not fully meet the changing behaviors, needs and expectations of our partners or customers,” Schultz wrote in an open letter in July. “It is not for us, for ourselves and for what we do. Designed for the future that the communities it serves aspire to.”

He wrote at the time that Schultz’s change plan included “radically improving” the employee experience and redesigning the store. The company has since made some changes, such as closing some stores, for safety reasons.

In a statement Thursday, Narasimhan said he was “honored” to join Starbucks “as a reimagining and investment in partner and customer experience allows us to meet the changing demands we face today.”

On Thursday, Schultz said Narasimhan was the right person for the job.

“He is a strategic and transformational leader with extensive experience building strong consumer brands,” Schultz said. “He’s the leader we’re looking for.”

Narasimhan’s previous company, Reckitt Benckiser, was a British manufacturer of several hygiene and wellness brands, including Durex condoms, Lysol and Mucinex. He was named CEO of the multibillion-dollar company in 2019.

The British company said in a statement earlier On Thursday, “Laxman has made the decision to move back to the United States for personal and family reasons and has approached him for the opportunity to have him live there.”

Before joining Reckitt Benckiser, Narasimhan held various positions at PepsiCo (PEP), including Global Chief Commercial Officer. He is also a senior partner at McKinsey, focusing on consumer and retail.

Melody Hobson, independent chairman of Starbucks’ board of directors, called Narasimhan “an inspiring leader,” adding that “his deep hands-on experience driving strategic transformation in consumer-facing businesses around the world makes him a Ideal choice.”

News of Narasimhan’s appointment came ahead of Starbucks’ annual investor day on September 13.

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