Coffee chain Starbucks' executive chairman Howard Schultz has become increasingly outspoken on political issues. He stepped down from the CEO job last year to focus on innovation and social impact projects.
The Seattle-based international coffee chain announced that its outspoken executive chairman Howard Schultz would leave the company at the end of the month. He will retain the role of chairman emeritus.
Last year, Schultz stepped down as chief executive officer and became executive chairman and ran the company's social impact initiatives.
The New York Times reported that his decision could increase speculation that the 64-year-old may run as a presidential candidate for the Democratic Party in the 2020 elections. Schultz has been openly critical of US President Donald Trump.
Schultz told the newspaper that he was deeply concerned about "the growing division at home and our standing in the world." He said he wanted to "figure out if there is a role I can play in giving back," which could include public service.
Racial bias training
Last week, all of the chain's US stores were closed for several hours to allow staff to receive racial bias awareness training. The decision came after two black men were arrested in a Philadelphia store while they were waiting for an associate, but had not bought anything.
"Please remember, Starbucks is at its best when our stores and offices are welcoming places for everyone" he said in his letter to 330,000 employees around the world, announcing that he was stepping down.
Global coffee giant
Schultz joined Starbucks 37 years ago, in 1981, and turned it into a global chain with 28,000 locations in 77 countries.
He will be replaced as executive chairman by the 70-year-old Myron E. "Mike" Ullman, former head of the US department store chain J.C. Penney, which includes leased departments such as Seattle's Best Coffee. J.C. Penny has closed some of its 850 stores amid falling sales, and CEO Marvin Ellison resigned on May 22.
Starbucks' share price fell 2.8 percent in late trading after the Schultz announcement.
jm/se (Reuters, AP)