Incoming CEO Johnson Lays Out 2017 Plans at Starbucks Meeting of Shareholders


Kevin Johnson

Incoming Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson was given the ceremonial key to the company Wednesday during the coffee giant’s 25th Annual Meeting of Shareholders, held today in Seattle. Taking over for longtime CEO Howard Schultz, who will step down from the position in April but remain with the company as executive chairman, Johnson led this year’s meeting with a look at the company’s 2017 innovation pipeline.

“I know I have ‘Venti’ shoes to fill, that’s not lost on me,” Johnson said, adding that he plans to “work tirelessly” to grow Starbucks and deliver strong investment returns.

Earlier this year, Starbucks launched a new Cascara Latte in U.S. stores and a oak barrel-aged Starbucks Reserve coffee, which includes con crema and cold brew varieties. Johnson said that the whiskey-style barrel-aged coffees are already outperforming projections. The company also announced new innovation-focused Roastery locations to accompany its Seattle branch will begin opening with a Shanghai Roastery planned for later this year. In 2018, the company will add Roasteries in New York, Milan, and Tokyo.

This summer Starbucks will launch in-store Teavana Shaken Iced Tea Infusions that contain no artificial flavors or added sugars. The line will include Pineapple Black Tea, Strawberry Green Tea, and Peach Citrus White Tea varieties.

Starbucks also intends to increase its in-store food menu and in April will launch a new fresh lunch sandwich selection in Chicago, with the possibility to expand.

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According to Johnson, Starbucks is also experiencing rapid growth in China and pledged to double the amount of stores in the country from more than 2,000 to 4,000 in the next five years. Currently, a new Starbucks store is opened in China roughly every 15 hours, he said.

In FY 2016, Starbucks reported record revenue of $21.3 billion and record non-GAAP earnings per share of $1.851 at 17 percent growth over FY15. Although the company’s overall stock was not up year-over-year from 2015, Schultz called it “an anomaly” and said analysts attempting to diagnose the slump “don’t know what they’re talking about.” He praised 2016 as “one of our best, most strongest, most meaningful years in our history.”