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Starbucks CEO to Retire, Interim CEO to Accept $1 Salary on 'Volunteer' Basis President and CEO Kevin Johnson will be leaving the company after 13 years.

By Emily Rella Edited by Amanda Breen

It's the end of an era for Starbucks, and we're not just talking about the retirement of a seasonal drink flavor.

On Wednesday, the company announced that Kevin Johnson, who has served as president and CEO for the past five years and has been with the company for over a decade, will be retiring on April 4. He will continue to serve as a partner and consultant to Starbucks' Board of Directors.

Though Johnson's successor has not been announced, the company shared that former CEO Howard Schultz will be returning and stepping up as interim CEO with a compensation of $1, calling the role a "volunteer position," where he will also return to the Board of Directors. A permanent leadership position is expected to be announced this fall.

Related: Starbucks Is Getting Rid of Its Iconic Cups

"A year ago, I signaled to the Board that as the global pandemic neared an end, I would be considering retirement from Starbucks. I feel this is a natural bookend to my 13 years with the company. As I make this transition, we are very fortunate to have a founder who is able to step in on an interim basis, giving the Board time to further explore potential candidates and make the right long-term succession decision for the company," Johnson said in a company statement. "I have enjoyed every minute of the job and am proud of what we have achieved together. It has been an honor to serve the 400,000 Starbucks green apron partners around the world and I want to thank them for their service, resilience and optimism."

Schultz will help the Starbucks team in the process of finding the next CEO as well as "coaching and onboarding" whomever the team selects.

"When you love something, you have a deep sense of responsibility to help when called. Although I did not plan to return to Starbucks, I know the company must transform once again to meet a new and exciting future where all of our stakeholders mutually flourish," Schultz said.

Starbucks made headlines this week when it announced that it would be phasing out its iconic green and white plastic cups and shifting to a more sustainable model by 2025.

Related: How Starbucks CEO Transformed a Small Coffee Bean Store Into a Massively Successful Worldwide Brand

The goal would be for customers to shift to using their own reusable mugs and cups in lieu of using a single throwaway one for each order, incentivizing those hesitant to make the switch and asking those who don't bring in their own cups to pay a deposit for a cup they can take with them and then return, dubbed the borrow-a-cup program.

"Our cup is ubiquitous, and we love that," Starbucks' chief sustainability officer Michael Kobori told CNN. "But it is also this ubiquitous symbol of a throwaway society." The cups are single-use, after all, and most people have probably encountered them in places they shouldn't be, like on the side of the road or in a lake.

Starbucks skyrocketed over 7.3% in a 24 hour period as of late Wednesday morning.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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