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Starbucks No. 2 exec, COO Troy Alstead, to take extended leave


Seattle – In a surprising move, the second in command at Starbucks Corp., COO Troy Alstead, 51, is taking an extended, unpaid leave of absence from the company starting March 1. Alstead, a 23-year Starbucks veteran, is responsible for day-to-day operations of the coffee giant, a position he was appointed to in January 2014. He is widely viewed as a potential successor to CEO Howard Schultz.

Alstead joined Starbucks in 1992. He served for many years as the company’s CFO. Previous roles included leading the operations and development of Starbucks’ international business and its Europe, Middle East and Africa business unit.

Starbucks said it will provide more details about a transition plan during its quarterly earnings call scheduled for Jan. 22. In a latter to employees, Alstead said he was taking time off to give his family “dedicated time and attention.” All Starbucks employees are entitled to a yearlong leave of absence after 10 years of employment.

According to various reports, Alstead previously requested a leave of absence in 2008 but was persuaded not to take it by chairman Howard Schultz.

“Looking back on the 23 years we spent together side-by-side as Starbucks colleagues, I can recall so many memorable moments and accomplishments in which Troy can take pride in a job well done,” said Starbucks chairman, president and CEO Howard Schultz. “Troy is a beloved Starbucks partner and has played an invaluable role in our growth as an enterprise and in the development of our culture as a performance-driven company balanced with humanity, which is unique for our industry. Troy’s humanity and humility will be missed and we wish him the best.”

Alstead’s leave comes at an important juncture for the company. A little more than a month ago, Starbucks announced an ambitious five-year plan that includes the expansion of new store formats, mobile payment initiatives and doubling sales from its food business.

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