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Howard Schultz returns to lead Starbucks on interim basis

President and CEO Kevin Johnson said he will retire next month after five years as CEO and 13 at Starbucks. Howard Schultz will return on an interim basis.

SEATTLE — Longtime Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is returning to lead the company on an interim basis after the coffee giant's chief executive announced his retirement.

Starbucks made the announcement Wednesday ahead of its annual meeting.

Kevin Johnson said he will retire next month after five years as CEO and 13 at Starbucks. Johnson, a former executive at Microsoft and Juniper Networks, succeeded Schultz as CEO in 2017.

Johnson, 61, said he told the company’s board last year that he was considering retirement. His most obvious successor had been Roz Brewer, the company's chief operating officer, but she left the company in February to become the top executive at Walgreens.

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Starbucks expects to name a permanent CEO by this fall. While Schultz leads the company, he will get $1 in compensation. Schultz, 68, is also rejoining Starbucks’ board.

Investors cheered the news; the Seattle company’s shares jumped 5% in premarket trading. The company's shares are down almost 30% this year as Starbucks struggles with higher labor and commodity costs and weaker sales in China.

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