Howard Schultz, the current CEO of Starbucks, is weeks away from stepping down from his role at the giant coffee chain next month.
The move, which was announced in December of last year, comes after his vow to hire thousands refugees in response to President Donald Trump’s first travel ban appeared to hurt customer sentiment and dent their sales.
Trump supporters have called for a boycott of the chain since January 29, when Schultz vowed to hire 10,000 refugees over five years.
In the announcement that he was stepping down, Schultz said he ‘will shift his focus to innovation, design and development of Starbucks Reserve® Roasteries around the world, expansion of the Starbucks Reserve® retail store format and the company’s social impact initiatives’ and ‘focus on Starbucks next wave of retail innovation.’
Schultz has always been vocal about the need for greater sensitivity in balancing profit margins while advancing socio-economic conscientiousness.
He was also a public Clinton supporter and prominent democrat, and even considered as a running mate for the Democratic nominee at one point.
Howard Schultz will step down as Starbucks CEO on April 3, as announced in December of last year
Schultz in a letter to employees said the promise of the American Dream was ‘being called into question’ and that ‘the civility and human rights we have all taken for granted for so long are under attack.’
Almost immediately consumer perception levels took a hit as measured by YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score, falling by two-thirds between January 29 and February 13.
The same company also noted that the data around this boycott is different because both the measures of consumers’ sentiment towards companies and their willingness to purchase from those brands are declining.
At the time, analysts at Credit Suisse said the coffee giant’s move had a negative impact on recent sales, and could continue to hurt them in the near future.
Schultz, with an estimated net worth of $3.1billion, will remain at Starbucks as executive chairman and will focus on strengthening the company’s high-end coffee shops.
Immediately Consumer perception levels took a hit as measured by YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score, falling by two-thirds between January 29 and February 13
Schultz will be replaced as CEO by Kevin Johnson, Starbucks’ chief operating officer, on April 3, 2017, The Seattle Times reported.
The self-made billionaire bought and turned the Seattle-based business from a fledgling company with four stores to a massive chain with 25,000 franchises worldwide.
Starbucks is estimated to be worth $85billion, according to Forbes. Its share price has taken a hit since Schultz’s refugee comments, but has risen in the past week to 55.78 USD.
Prior to the comments, 30 per cent of consumers said they would consider buying from Starbucks next time they made a coffee purchase. However, now that number fell to 26 per cent, according to a YouGov spokesman.
‘Consumer perception dropped almost immediately,’ said YouGov BrandIndex CEO Ted Marzilli, who added that the statistically significant drop in purchase consideration data showed that consumers became less keen to buy from Starbucks.
‘That would indicate the announcement has had a negative impact on Starbucks, and might indicate a negative impact on sales in the near term,’ he said.
‘We’re not just here to raise the stock price,’ he told Forbes in March of 2016. ‘What can we do to use our strength for social good?’
As CEO, he offered to subsidize tuition for baristas looking to get their degrees online. He also spearheaded the move to place Starbucks franchises on military bases in order as a way to provide jobs for veterans and soldiers’ spouses.
During the recent election campaign, speculation was rampant that Schultz was considered as a possible running mate on the Democratic ticket.
Schultz, who said he was a ‘lifelong’ Democrat, wrongly predicted that Clinton would take the White House.
On the morning after the election, Schultz penned a note to his employees saying he was ‘stunned’ by Donald Trump’s victory.
‘We cannot know what the precise impact will be on our country and the rest of the world,’ Schultz wrote.
‘I am hopeful that we will overcome the vitriol and division of this unprecedented election season.’
Starbucks is estimated to be worth $85billion and Schultz has an estimated net worth of $3.1billion, according to Forbes
He ‘is definitely being pursued’ as a Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, The Seattle Times reported.
Among other things, boycott supporters are urging like-minded friends to support Starbucks rival Dunkin’ Donuts . Representatives from Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts declined to comment on the surveys and the boycott’s impact on sales.
The consumer sentiment data comes at a sensitive time for Starbucks, which reported an accelerated decline in traffic to established U.S. restaurants during the latest quarter.
Starbucks executives pinned much of the blame for its traffic setback on a pileup of mobile orders, which caused bottlenecks at drink pickup stations that thwarted walk-in customers.
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