Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz has announced his intention to stand down from the coffee juggernaut he helped create, fueling speculation that he could be poised to announce a 2020 US presidential bid on a Democratic ticket.
Schultz has helmed the coffee chain for almost four decades but will now hand over the reigns to chief executive Kevin Johnson, who faces an onerous to-do list dominated by slower growth in a saturated US market and fierce competition from direct rivals such as Costa Coffee and Lavazza as well as fast-food outlets.
Addressing his own future in a New York Times piece, Schultz said: “I intend to think about a range of options, and that could include public service. But I’m a long way from making any decisions about the future.”
Schultz is credited with growing Starbucks from an 11-outlet minnow to a 28,000 café colossus spanning 77 countries after spotting a gap in the market for lattes and espresso drinks. Starbucks has confirmed that Schultz will resign from its board and be named chairman emeritus on 26 June.
Starbucks recently agreed to sell licensing rights for its coffee to Nestle for $7.1bn.