Starbucks CEO to focus on mobile, digital efforts

NEW YORK — Starbucks says CEO Howard Schultz will spend more time focusing on mobile payments, loyalty cards and other digital projects of increasing importance for the coffee chain.

The announcement comes after the Seattle-based company recently noted that it saw a “seismic” shift to online shopping during this past holiday season. Executives say that hurt the company’s performance because there were fewer people milling about at malls, meaning fewer opportunities for people to stop in at its cafes.

Schultz has shot down the notion that the migration to online shopping will hurt Starbucks over the long term, however. He says Starbucks is using its mobile payment apps, its loyalty program and gift cards to deepen relationships with customers and get them to visit more often.

As part of a management shakeup announced Wednesday, Starbucks said Schultz would work more closely with chief digital officer Adam Brotman and chief strategy officer Matt Ryan.

Starbucks also says chief financial officer Troy Alstead is moving into the newly created position of chief operating officer, overseeing day-to-day operations. Starbucks representative Zack Hutson said the announcement was not intended to be part of a succession plan for Schultz, who returned as CEO in 2008.

Taking Alstead’s place as CFO will be Scott Maw, the company’s senior vice president of corporate finance.

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