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Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is stepping down

Howard Schultz (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for The New York Times)

The Starbucks Corporation announced Thursday that self-made billionaire Howard Schultz, the coffee company's longtime chief executive, will be leaving his post on April 3 — the second time he has left the brand in 16 years.

In Schultz's place, Reuters reported, will be Kevin Johnson, currently the chief operating officer of Starbucks.

"Howard Schultz ... will shift his focus to innovation, design and development of Starbucks Reserve Roasteries around the world, expansion of the Starbucks Reserve retail store format and the company's social impact initiatives," read a statement from the mammoth coffee business.

After stepping down, Schultz will become Starbucks' executive chairman and will focus on new strategic initiatives to grow the well-known chain.

"Starbucks consistently outperforms the retail industry because our stores, our offerings and the experiences our partners create make us a destination," the outgoing CEO said in a statement of his own Thursday, adding:

As I focus on Starbucks' next wave of retail innovation, I am delighted that Kevin Johnson — our current president, COO, a seven-year board member and my partner in running every facet of Starbucks business over the last two years — has agreed to assume the duties of Starbucks chief executive officer. This move ideally positions Starbucks to continue profitably growing our core business around the world into the future.

The first time Schultz stepped down from his leadership role was in 2000. He previously helmed the company from August of 1987 to April of 2000, according to Forbes, but went another direction for eight years to focus on expanding Starbucks' global footprint. He picked the CEO title back up on Jan. 8, 2008.

Starbucks' shares were down 3.3 percent at $56.78 when the market closed Thursday.

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