June 4 (UPI) -- Howard Schultz plans to step down as executive chairman of Starbucks and relinquish his seat on the board of directors later this month, the coffee company announced Monday.
Schultz is expected to depart June 26 after nearly four decades with the company, including about 30 years as CEO.
"I set out to build a company that my father, a blue-collar worker and World War II veteran, never had a chance to work for," Schultz said in a letter sent to past and present Starbucks partners Monday. "Together we've done that, and so much more, by balancing profitability and social conscience, compassion and rigor, and love and responsibility."
Schultz joined Starbucks as director of marketing in 1981, leaving in 1985 to start his own coffee shop -- Il Giornale. He purchased the Starbucks brand and its stores in 1986 and took the company public in 1992.
During his time with the company, Starbucks grew from 11 stores to more than 28,000 in 77 countries. In April 2017, Schultz announced he would step down as CEO to become executive chairman, elevating then-President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Johnson to the top post.
"There are no words to fully express our gratitude to Howard for the extraordinary company he has built," said Johnson, who also is a member of the board of directors. "He's helped Starbucks earn the respect of millions around the world by always being true to a higher calling, and always being bold in creating a better future. He's taught all of us that it's possible to be a very different kind of public company. That must, and will, continue on my watch."