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With new finance chief on board, Starbucks restructuring heats up

While the brand name Starbucks (SBUX) continues to be synonymous with ready-to-drink coffee in most parts of the world, the company seems to be struggling to remain the favorite among Americans. The impressive quarterly numbers in recent times, despite little growth in store footfalls, are often the result of jacked up prices.

The rising competition from McDonald’s (MCD) and Costa Coffee is something that needs to be addressed immediately, and the management has been on it for quite some time. After a long search that started about three months ago, when Scott Maw announced his retirement as the chief financial officer, the coffee giant finally zeroed in on Patrick Grismer to be named the new finance chief.

After a long search, the coffee giant finally zeroed in on Patrick Grismer to be named the new finance chief

Grismer, who served as the head of finance at Hyatt Hotels (H) for about two years, will also assume the additional role of executive vice president at Starbucks by the end of November, coinciding with Maw’s departure. CEO Kevin Johnson is clearly betting on Grismer’s extensive experience in the food and beverages industry, serving a number of popular firms including Yum Brands (YUM) and KFC during a career spanning about the quarter of a century.

The change of guard in the finance department comes on the heels of the company announcing a major corporate rejig, including layoffs, across all markets. The focus of the overhaul is on deploying an ‘efficient’ leadership team that is quick at decision making and formulating growth strategies.

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Maybe, the management wants to make sure that the coffee chain’s operations do not get affected by the recent departure of its visionary leader Howard Schultz, the man who is responsible for Starbucks’ phenomenal growth from a local coffee shop to a global brand. Meanwhile, the efforts to put things in order suffered a jolt last month when Colman Cuff, head of the company’s coffee trading division, made an abrupt exit.

Market watchers are of the view that the restructuring initiative, along with aggressive promotional campaigns such as the customer loyalty rewards program, will lure customers back to the Starbucks stores.

The company’s shares are currently trading at the levels seen about twelve months ago, after witnessing some volatility during that period. The stock closed Monday’s trading session higher, after staying low throughout last week.

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