Laxman Narasimhan formally took on the role of Starbucks CEO Monday, two weeks earlier than expected. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
March 20 (UPI) -- Laxman Narasimhan officially took over as CEO of Starbucks on Monday, two weeks earlier than expected and will make his first public address at the company's annual shareholders meeting on Thursday.
Narasimhan was named the new CEO last September and was originally expected to formally take over for former CEO Howard Schultz on April 1.
"I am humbled to officially step into my role as Starbucks chief executive officer, leading our incredible team of more than 450,000 green apron partners around the world," Narasimhan said in a statement Monday.
"The foundation Howard has laid -- building from scratch an iconic global brand fueled by a lasting passion to uplift humanity -- is truly remarkable, and I am honored to have the opportunity to build on this deep heritage."
Narasimhan, who worked at the health and hygiene company Reckitt, joined Starbucks in October and spent time working front-end jobs throughout the company and even earning his barista certification, the company said.
"As a human connection business, we have limitless possibilities to deliver for our partners, our customers, our investors and our communities through every cup and every connection," Narasimhan said. "I am excited to work alongside our partners worldwide to unlock the limitless future of Starbucks."
In a letter to employees released Monday, Schultz encouraged workers to "lean into one another" for support, particularly in hard times.
"I want to acknowledge that there are times when the responsibility for our partners, customers and communities around the world will feel heavy," Schultz said. "But as partners, know that you are not shouldering the responsibility alone.
"Lean into one another -- you will find support everywhere, from the boardroom to partners in plants to store managers to the newest baristas. Our partners have been teaching me for more than 40 years. They will help you all continue to earn your green apron every day."
Narasimhan takes over shortly after the company suspended a stock buyback plan and an ongoing effort to unionize individual stores.
Starbucks stores in the hometown of Seattle, along with five stores in the Buffalo, N.Y. area and Mesa, Ariz. have all voted to unionize.