Sep 1, 2022 - Economy

Starbucks announces new CEO amid growing unionization efforts

Laxman Narasimhan, chief executive officer of Latin America at PepsiCo, speaks in Peru.

Laxman Narasimhan speaks in Peru. Photo: Guillermo Gutierrez/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Laxman Narasimhan will become Starbucks' new chief executive officer, the company announced Thursday.

The big picture: Narasimhan, who will fully replace interim CEO Howard Schultz, will join Starbucks as the company deals with a growing number of unions amid a massive labor movement.

Details: Starbucks said Narasimhan will start as incoming CEO on Oct. 1.

  • Narasimhan, a former senior executive at PepsiCo, most recently worked with Reckitt, a consumer-health company, per the New York Times.
  • Schultz will step down as interm CEO on April 1 of next year, the company said. He will stay on as an advisor to Narasimhan through 2023 and will remain on the company's board of directors thereafter.

What they're saying: “We were looking for somebody that was a true servant leader that had a deep sense of humility,” Schultz told the New York Times. “Laxman first and foremost is a true servant leader.”

  • Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, tells Axios that Narasimhan will inherit a company that faces a number of challenges, "including increased union activity and a modest weakening of the bottom line where operating margin is under pressure."

State of play: Narasimhan joins as the company has been experiencing a massive push toward unionization.

Thought bubble via Axios' Hope King: Schultz, when he took over in April this year, promised transformation — a difficult task for a coffee chain facing massive competition, unhappy investors and disgruntled workers. By the time Narasimhan steps up next April, he’ll likely start with worker relations.

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