Starbucks announced Thursday that its COO position will be eliminated, the latest in a number of leadership shakeups at the coffee chain.
John Culver, group president of North America and COO, will step down on October 3 after 20 years with the company. He will remain as an adviser through January. As part of the separation agreement, he will receive $3.75 million in severance, stock units, stock option awards, the equivalent of 18 months worth of COBRA coverage, and outplacement services.
When the move becomes effective, day-to-day business operations (global growth and concepts, chief marketing officer, inclusion and diversity, and North American retail) will report to the CEO, and strategy roles (chief communications and public affairs officer, chief technology officer, global supply chain, data analytics and business operations, and chief partner officer) will report to Frank Britt, who was hired as chief strategy officer in April.
"I truly believe Starbucks best days are ahead and I am confident that as this next chapter for Starbucks begins, our partners and the next generation of leaders will help us realize the many hopes and dreams we all share for the company," Culver said in a letter to employees.
The change is part of what founder and interim CEO Howard Schultz calls the "reinvention plan." The executive feels as if though Starbucks isn't built for today's consumer and must make conscious efforts to reconnect with guests and re-envision the chain's mission statement.
Culver isn't the first C-suite member to leave in light of this transformation. Rossann Williams, who led the North America business, left after more than 17 years. The chief human resources officer, executive vice president of public affairs, general counsel, and senior vice president of public policy have all reportedly left the team, as well.
Schultz re-entered the fold in the spring after previous CEO Kevin Johnson announced his retirement. The plan is for Starbucks to name a new chief executive sometime this fall. The Wall Street Journal reported the next leader will come from outside the brand.
As the leadership switches and CEO search carries on, Starbucks continues to face a growing union battle among its company-owned footprint. Shops began unionizing late last year in Buffalo. Since then more than 220 units across the country have voted in favor. There are nearly 9,000 corporate units in the U.S. as of June 27. The brand recently asked the National Labor Relations Board to suspend all elections so it could investigate misconduct between a regional NLRB office and union officials.