Starbucks Corp on Thursday named Laxman Narasimhan as its next chief executive officer, choosing an executive credited with revitalizing the maker of Lysol disinfectants to undertake a “reinvention” of the world’s biggest coffee chain.
Mr Narasimhan was CEO of Reckitt, which also makes Durex condoms, Enfamil baby formula and Mucinex cold syrup. He announced his departure from that post earlier in the day, and FTSE-listed Reckitt’s shares fell 4%.
Starbucks faces a turbulent period. More than 200 of its US stores have unionized in the past year, with workers pushing for better benefits and wages at a time of surging inflation.
The company is also reworking its business model from a focus on cafes that encouraged long visits to mobile pickup and delivery, while facing higher costs for ingredients and labor. Also, COVID restrictions in China have slowed the US coffee chain’s business in one of its biggest overseas markets.
Mr Narasimhan will join Starbucks in October but will take the helm in April 2023, after spending a few months learning about the company and its “Reinvention” plan, which includes paying better wages for baristas, improving employee welfare and customer experience and re-imagining stores.
Until then, interim-CEO Howard Schultz, who took back the reins of the company for the third time in April after Kevin Johnson retired, will continue to lead the company.
“He is a strategic and transformational leader with deep experience in building powerful consumer brands,” Schultz said in a letter to employees welcoming Mr Narasimhan.