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The Financial Times has a story about Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, who has the task of leading the company now that its de facto founder, Howard Schultz, has moved on.

An excerpt:

“Inspiration has been a part of Starbucks’ mission statement for most of its 47 years and its new boss shares Mr Schultz’s taste in uplifting management mantras. Mr Johnson’s Starbucks is one where each store is a community-boosting ‘third place,’ where empowered baristas ‘nurture the human spirit’ by remembering their regulars’ names and just how they take their brew.

“It is a venti-half-full description that does not chime with every customer’s experience of a chain that now serves 100m people a week from 29,000 stores in 78 countries. Mr Johnson concedes that ubiquity makes it harder to replicate the premium buzz that draws tourists to the Pike Place store where it all began, but his recipe for making Starbucks stand out again starts with the 350,000 people he must inspire to follow someone other than the man who personified their company for decades and may run for the presidency in 2020.”

You can read the story here.
KC's View:
One of the things that I actually find heartening about the story’s depiction of Johnson is the fact that he does not seem quite as bullish as Schultz about the Reserve and Roastery stores. Schultz always seemed to have the attitude that he’d build all of these stores that he wanted to, and that the market would reshape itself to his will. Johnson, on the other hand, says that they must prove themselves and meet specific benchmarks to warrant expansion.

I agree with the latter approach, not because of any lack of enthusiasm for the format, but it seems to me that they will be especially vulnerable to any sort of economic turndown … instead of selling $4 lattes like traditional Starbucks stores, they’re selling $8 specialty drinks. Those will be the first things to go when, as it inevitably will, the economy tightens.