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Starbucks names Reckitt’s Narasimhan as new CEO


(Reuters) -Starbucks Corp on Thursday named Laxman Narasimhan as its next chief executive officer, after Reckitt Benckiser earlier in the day said he will step down as the London-listed company’s CEO.

Narasimhan will replace Howard Schultz, who will continue as Starbucks’ interim chief until April next year and will remain with the coffee chain as an adviser through 2023.

Starbucks said in March Schultz would return to lead the company after Kevin Johnson retired, taking over as interim CEO and driving strategy to deal with a growing union drive at U.S. cafes.

Narasimhan joined Reckitt in September 2019 from PepsiCo and was the first external candidate to take the helm at the British company since it was formed in 1999.

Narasimhan led the household goods maker through the pandemic, which boosted sales of its health and hygiene products, and as the company navigated a baby formula crisis in the United States.

At Starbucks, Narasimhan will be tasked with leading the company through a turbulent period as a number of stores unionize, with demands for better benefits and wages, and increasing sales against the backdrop of decades-high inflation.

Starbucks said Narasimhan will spend time with Schultz and the management team, visit manufacturing plants and coffee farms during the transition period.

The coffee chain’s shares, down nearly 27% this year, rose marginally to $85.70 after the bell. They have fallen 24% since Schultz’s return as interim CEO.

(Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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