Ex-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz demands coffee chain revamp

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz posted a lengthy essay on LinkedIn urging the coffee chain to overhaul its US operations after the company posted disappointing quarterly earnings.

Schultz, who left the company’s board last fall after he became the public face of the company’s resistance to its employees’ unionization drives, wrote on Sunday that Starbucks needs to regain “a maniacal focus on the customer experience, through the eyes of a merchant.”

“The answer does not lie in data, but in the stores.”

Schultz said that its lagging US sales — which sent Starbucks shares tumbling 16% during a single trading session last week — were “the primary reason for the company’s fall from grace.”

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (left) had some words of advice for his successor, Laxman Narasimhan (right). The two are seen above in September 2022. AP
Schultz posted a lengthy note on LinkedIn on Sunday. LinkedIn

In his LinkedIn post, Schultz encouraged Starbucks executives and board members to “spend more time with those who wear the green apron.”

“One of their first actions should be to reinvent the mobile ordering and payment platform — which Starbucks pioneered — to once again make it the uplifting experience it was designed to be,” Schultz wrote.

The 70-year-old former boss, who remains one of the company’s largest shareholders, stepped down from the company’s board of directors last September — six months after handing over the reins of the firm to CEO Laxman Narasimhan.

Shares of Starbucks fell 15% last week after the company reported disappointing quarterly earnings results. AP

The Brooklyn native, who bought Starbucks when it was just a local Seattle-based coffee bean store and turned it into a chain of European-style coffeehouses, urged the company to redo its “go-to-market strategy” by focusing on “coffee-forward innovation that inspires partners.”

“Through it all, focus on being experiential, not transactional,” Schultz wrote.

Narasimhan was grilled last week by CNBC analyst Jim Cramer during a tense interview in which the chief executive was asked to explain Starbucks’ lackluster quarterly results.

“Is it possible that your coffee is just too darn expensive?” Cramer asked the Starbucks boss during the interview — video of which went viral on social media.

Narasimhan responded that the “occasional US customer” has “clearly cut back on visits to us” due to sky-high levels of inflation.

“We have not been able to communicate to them the value that we provide,” the CEO said.

Narasimhan pledged to put in place an “action plan” to “reach [customers] and communicate to them the value that we are providing.”

Starbucks said economic headwinds in China as well as high inflation in the US have put a dent in the company’s bottom line. REUTERS

After the interview, Cramer told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that he was “stunned.”

“I am distressed about this situation even knowing Mr. Narasimhan has an action plan,” Cramer said on CNBC.

Shares of Starbucks fell to a two-year low on Wednesday after the company reduced its annual forecasts due to weakened demand in the inflation-hit US as well as a slower-than-anticipated recovery in China.

“We had a tough quarter. We need to do better, and we will. As I look forward, I’m confident we have the right strategy,” Narasimhan told investors on an earnings call last week.

Starbucks cut its sales outlook for the second time this year. It reported last week that its net income fell 15% in the quarter compared to the same period last year.

The company also said that revenue fell 2%.

The Post has sought comment from Starbucks.

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