Starbucks Corp Executive Chairman Howard Schultz is stepping away from hands-on management at the global coffee chain, effective June 26, fuelling speculation that the outspoken, liberal-leaning executive will make a US presidential bid. Schultz will keep the honorary title of chairman emeritus.
Schultz, 64, has been serving as executive chairman of Starbucks since stepping down as chief executive in April of past year and handing over to Kevin Johnson.
The company temporarily closed more than 8,000 United States stores after the arrest for racial bias training.
Schultz told The New York Times that he plans to use his free time to work on his family foundation and to write a book about "social impact work and the efforts to redefine the role and responsibility of a public company".
Schultz, who has been outspoken on political and social issues, has long attracted speculation that he will run for office, potentially as a Democratic presidential candidate in 2020.
But when asked directly if he was thinking about running for president, he did not rule out the possibility.
"I want to be truthful with you without creating more speculative headlines", Schultz, said in an interview with The New York Times. He spoke to the growing division in the country and America's standing in the world.
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"I intend to think about a range of options, and that could include public service", he responded.
Schultz at the opening of a Starbucks location in Tokyo on 2 August 1996. "For years I've had a dream to build a different kind of company, one that has the potential to enhance lives and endure long after I was gone".
The move followed the April 12 arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks, which sparked outrage, protests and soul-searching about racial tensions that have been exacerbated under President Trump.
Starbucks has also been a leader in workers' benefits under Schultz.
Starbucks said Myron E. "Mike" Ullman would be the new chairman of the board upon Schultz's retirement.
Starbucks shares closed up 0.28 percent at $57.07 in regular Monday trading on the Nasdaq, but were down 1 percent at $56.50.