Starbucks Recruits Company Veteran for CFO Role

Starbucks Corp.

named a 16-year company veteran as its new finance chief as it works to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, which hurt its sales across the globe.

Rachel Ruggeri, who returned to Starbucks in June last year after a two-year stint as chief financial officer of bakery products company Continental Mills Inc. will take over its finances Feb. 1, the Seattle-based coffee chain said Thursday.

Current CFO

Patrick Grismer,

who joined Starbucks as finance chief from

Hyatt Hotels Corp.

in late 2018, will remain with the company as an adviser to Chief Executive

Kevin Johnson

and Ms. Ruggeri through May 2.

Mr. Grismer, 58 years old, decided to retire to devote more time to philanthropy, community service and his family, the company said.

Ms. Ruggeri currently serves as senior vice president finance for Starbucks’s Americas business and has held various positions at the company before, including in its financial planning and analysis team. She first joined Starbucks in 2001 and helped launch the first Starbucks Card, a precursor to the chain’s digital membership programs, the company said.

As CFO, Ms. Ruggeri will likely be tasked with helping Starbucks regain lost ground and pay for new costs, including rising staff wages.

Mr. Johnson, the CEO, said last month he wants to raise pay for all U.S. store workers to at least $15 an hour over the next three years.

Starbucks has suffered a fall in sales amid coronavirus-related restrictions and remote work in many parts of the world.

The pandemic resulted in closures of many of the chain’s cafes, prompting a double-digit decline in same-store sales. Many of its stores are running again, while others, including in airports and on university campuses, remain closed.

Still, Starbucks said in October that customers were returning to its cafes quicker than initially forecast. The company reported a profit of $392.6 million during the quarter ended Sept. 27, down 51% with $802.9 million in the prior year period.

The chain said it expects to fully heal from the pandemic in its current fiscal year, and anticipates opening around 22,000 stores globally over the next decade. It had 32,660 stores as of Sept. 27 2020.

Starbucks is also closing hundreds of stores as part of a plan to build new ones more geared toward to-go service. It recently added more locations where baristas can deliver coffee to customers in their cars, and opened three to-go only stores, including ones now operating in New York City and Toronto.

Sales growth projected for this fiscal year and beyond will help the chain cover the plan to increase pay, Mr. Grismer said in December.

“We believe they are absolutely essential to our brand positioning,” he said, referring to the planned wage increases.

Write to Nina Trentmann at [email protected] and Heather Haddon at [email protected]

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