Laxman Letter to Partners: With Gratitude and Optimism
My cup is full with gratitude and optimism on this morning of my first Starbucks Annual Meeting of Shareholders.
While Monday may have been “day one” for me in my new role, the past six months of my immersion into the company have been shaped by so many of you who have taught me about our very special culture at Starbucks.
With you, I’ve experienced every aspect of the business to learn what it truly means to wear the green apron. You’ve welcomed me into our stores, trained me in how to be a barista, taught me about the work in our support centers, immersed me in our brand, our supply chain and manufacturing business, and you’ve introduced me to our agronomists and farmers in Origin where our coffee is sourced – all to help me deeply understand what we do, how we do it, and the challenges and opportunities facing us.
Thank you Starbucks partners and, of course, Howard, our founder, for taking such care and time with your support for me as I embarked on this journey.
Through my immersion, Howard, the leadership team, and I have spent a significant amount of time discussing the universal need for human connection – something Starbucks is uniquely positioned to deliver – in a world full of isolation, loneliness, and social exclusion. Together, we have acknowledged the opportunity for a refounding of Starbucks – to nurture the limitless possibilities for human connection over every cup of coffee.
To fully realize our limitless potential, however, we have to first address what is limiting us. With our reinvention plan introduced last year, we will continue our focus on improving the store, customer, and of course, the partner experience, including long-term hiring and retention, and continuing our investment in partner wages and store operations. Actioning our reinvention plan has been a critical step in unlocking our limitless potential. We know we have more work to do, and we will keep our partners updated as we continue to make progress too.
While our performance is strong, our health needs to be stronger. We must care for the artists and the theater in the front of our stores, and the factory in the back. We strive to be a different kind of company operating in a different kind of world. We must appreciate our history and honor what made Starbucks great; while evolving and modernizing our brand, our business, and our culture to meet the needs of today.
For long-term, sustainable growth, we will look to discover ways to further elevate the brand through coffee and in our stores; building on our leadership position, we will strengthen and further scale digital experiences for our customers; we will evolve to a more global presence for our business and our brand; we will work to become less wasteful and move with greater speed; and, critically, we will reinvigorate our culture around what it means to be a partner at Starbucks.
We are a team of partners, and as ceo, I will continue to earn my green apron every day. As we innovate and grow, with rigor and vigor, we will be directly engaging with retail partners to guide us. I have learned so much about the retail experience from working in our stores. To keep us close to the culture and our customers, as well as to our challenges and opportunities, I intend to continue working in stores for a half day each month, and I expect each member of the leadership team to also ensure our support centers stay connected and engaged in the realities of our stores for discussion and improvement.
I’m excited to get to know more of you as we begin creating this future together, and I want you to know that I’ll be bringing the heart, hands, mind, and spirit required to lead Starbucks. I will always be a fierce advocate for our partners and our culture. And importantly, I’ll balance our pursuit of brand innovation and operational excellence with our commitment to building meaningful human connections over coffee to bring out the best in our partners and help us all thrive, together.
As a company that started with just one store in Pike Place market, to now over 36,000 stores in over 80 markets around the world, we celebrate the millions of connections and conversations that happen at Starbucks and the one question we ask our customers each day, “How may we serve you today?”
With gratitude and optimism.