New Starbucks CEO Officially Steps Into Role

Laxman Narasimhan took over the lead role at the coffee giant two weeks earlier than planned.

March 21, 2023

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—In September, Laxman Narasimhan was announced as Starbuck’s next CEO. The official handover from interim CEO Howard Schultz was set for the end of March, but Narasimhan assumed the lead role Monday, March 20.

“Over the past five months, [Narasimhan] has embarked on a unique immersion experience, traveling to work with partners (employees) in over 30 stores, manufacturing plants and in support centers around the world, earning his barista certification along the way,” Starbucks announced.

“This immersion has deepened Laxman’s understanding of Starbucks culture and values. In this time of learning and listening, he has already won the hearts and minds of our partners around the world,” said Mellody Hobson, Independent Starbucks Board of Directors chair.

Last spring Starbucks announced a $1 billion program to invest in “increased pay, modernized training and collaboration, store innovation and the celebration of coffee.” In September, it provided details on a three-year reinvention plan that includes new equipment and updated stores.

Some facts about Narasimhan:

  • He was born in India and speaks German, English, Spanish and three different Indian dialects.
  • His past experience includes a stint as CEO of PepsiCo’s Latin America, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa operations.
  • Most recently he was CEO of Reckitt, whose brands include Clearasil, Lysol and Woolite. While there he transformed what had been a struggling company.

Can convenience retailers compete with Starbucks and other coffee chains? Look for a story on c-store baristas in our upcoming May 2023 issue of NACS Magazine.