Starbucks Names Laxman Narasimhan as Its New C.E.O.

The world's largest coffee chain has appointed Laxman Narasimhan as its next CEO, the business announced on Thursday. He will lead Starbucks as it battles a growing unionisation push, rising prices, and losses in China.

In April, Mr. Narasimhan will succeed Howard Schultz, Starbucks' longstanding CEO, who regained control of the business last April after Kevin Johnson resigned as CEO.

Mr. Narasimhan, 55, will be pushed into one of the most prestigious corporate leadership positions in the world, managing some 35,000 stores and 383,000 staff members worldwide. Former senior PepsiCo executive, he most recently served as CEO of Reckitt Benckiser, a British conglomerate that produces Durex condoms and Lysol disinfectant.

He was engaged by Reckitt in 2019 to revitalise the conglomerate, which had been hurt by the unsuccessful attempt to separate the business and the $16.6 billion acquisition of the infant goods manufacturer Mead Johnson. Investors and experts praised him for selling underperforming businesses and guiding the company through the pandemic.

The depth of experience Mr. Narasimhan possessed across several businesses and geographical boundaries was what attracted Starbucks to him. He "is a true operator and has the DNA of an entrepreneur," Mr. Schultz said, adding that the company would benefit greatly from his experience in supply chains and technology.

Until April, Mr. Schultz is anticipated to serve as the organization's temporary CEO before transitioning into Mr. Narasimhan's advisory role. Also continuing on the board of the business is Mr. Schultz.

Over the past year, the coffee business has become the focus of a renewed unionisation drive as employees fight for more pay and better working conditions. Starbucks had no unions at any of its nearly 9,000 company-owned outlets in the US as of December, but as of Monday, there were 230.

Starbucks has been charged with interfering with unionisation efforts illegally and retaliating by closing locations and firing pro-union employees, according to labour activists and the National Labor Relations Board. The business has refuted the allegations, yet it still opposes unionisation efforts.

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