Howard Schultz, who built Starbucks Corp. from a humble coffee shop into an espresso empire, said he would step down as chief executive to focus on expanding the company in overseas markets. Orin Smith, chief operating officer and president of the Seattle-based company, will succeed Schultz, effective June 1.
Schultz, who joined Starbucks in 1982 and took over as chairman and chief executive five years later, will remain chairman and assume the new title of chief global strategist. Starbucks opened it first store overseas in 1996 in Tokyo, and now has 350 shops in Asia, the Middle East and Britain among its 2,800 outlets. "We believe that we are still in the very early days of Starbucks' growth cycle and that we can surpass 20,000 Starbucks stores worldwide," Schultz said.