Starbucks' Leader of North America to Step Down

    The move is the latest leadership shakeup since founder and interim CEO Howard Schultz re-entered the fold in April. 

    Starbucks interior of a restaurant with a customer ordering at the counter.
    Starbucks
    The executive spent more than 17 years at the company.

    Rossann Williams, who leads Starbucks' North American business, is leaving the company at the end of June, according to the Wall Street Journal

    The executive is stepping down despite being offered another position. She will be replaced by 20-year veteran Sara Trilling, who currently leads the chain's Asia Pacific sector. Trilling will take over the North America segment effective June 21. 

    Williams joined the company in 2004 as a regional vice president in the Dallas-Fort Worth market and proceeded to serve in multiple leadership positions, including vice president of operations for EMEA, division senior vice president, senior vice president of global and Americas operations services, senior vice president of global talent management, and president of Starbucks Canada. Williams has served as the president of U.S. retail and Canada since March 2018. 

    MORE: Inside Starbucks' Billion-Dollar Plan to Catch Up After COVID

    “Starbucks is a company, a family, a belief system, and a tremendous light with a great future,” Williams said in a message to employees, seen by the Journal.

    The executive has been one of the main respondents to the growing unionization effort at company-run stores. After Buffalo locations decided to unionize in December, more than 100 other units across the country have done so in the past six months. 

    Trilling arrived at Starbucks in January 2002 as manager of concept design. In the following years, she moved up the ranks and became senior vice president of food category and innovation in October 2016. She started her current position in Asia Pacific in April 2018. 

    “She has touched nearly every aspect of our business,” COO John Culver said to employees, according to the Journal. “I am confident that she will bring her rich experience and proven approach to servant leadership to advance our U.S. business transformation.”

    Williams' departure is the latest shakeup among Starbucks' leadership ranks. In March, the coffee chain revealed CEO Kevin Johnson was retiring in April and that founder and former leader Howard Schultz would return as interim CEO. He previously served as CEO from 2008-2017 and 1985-2000 and as president from 2008-2015 and 1985-1994. 

    Since Schultz's arrival, he's brought back former communications leader Vivek Varma and previous president Cliff Burrows in advisory roles. Additionally, Starbucks' general counsel left the company on the second day of the interim tenure, the Journal said, and Schultz hired Frank Britt, former CEO of for-profit online college Penn Foster, as the company's new chief strategy officer. The chief human resources officer, executive vice president of public affairs, and senior vice president of public policy reportedly left the company in May. 

    The new CEO, which should be named sometime in the fall, will come from outside the organization, Schultz said. He will remain as the interim leader through the end of the calendar year to provide a seamless transition. 

    “For the future of the company, we need a domain of experience and expertise in a number of disciplines that we don’t have now,” the interim CEO said, according to the Journal. “It requires a different type of leader.”