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Howard Schultz teased that an Italian-inspired ‘game-changer’ is coming soon to Starbucks — and it’s ‘bigger than any new promotion or beverage’

Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks, in the company's reserve roastery in Milan wearing a grey suit.Howard Schultz is traveling back to Italy later this month.

Starbucks

  • The Italian espresso culture inspired Howard Schultz 40 years ago as he built the Starbucks empire.

  • On Thursday, the interim CEO said another Italian-inspired product is coming soon to Starbucks.
  • “It will be a game changer,” Schultz said in his last earnings call.  

Nearly 40 years ago, Italy’s espresso culture inspired Howard Schultz to build Starbucks into an empire of community-centered cafes worldwide.

On Thursday, the Starbucks interim CEO said Italy has called out to him again.

In his final earnings call, Schultz hinted at a game-changing new “platform” coming to Starbucks later this month.

“While I was in Italy last summer, I discovered an enduring transformative new category and platform for the company – unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” he said during the first quarter conference call. “The word I would use to describe it without giving too much away is alchemy. It will be a game-changer. So standby.”

Schultz said will travel to Milan later this month “to introduce something much bigger than any new promotion or beverage.”

He called the trip a “full circle” journey for him.

Schultz first visited Milan in 1983.

“I was captivated by the sense of community I found in the city’s espresso bars – the moments of human connection that passed so freely and genuinely between baristas and their customers,” Schultz said in 2018 when Starbucks opened its first Roastery in Milan.

Later in the call, an analyst tried to coax Schultz to provide more details.

“If I told you, I’d have to kill you.” he joked.

Schultz returned for a third stint as the company’s top boss last spring after Kevin Johnson stepped down as chief executive officer. Schultz took over the chain amid the ongoing pandemic and store unionization efforts going on across the US.

Laxman Narasimhan will become the company’s next chief executive officer on April 1.

Schultz exits his top leadership role on a high. 

In North America, including the US, the company reported record sales.

“Eight of the ten highest sales days in our history [were] recorded in the quarter,” Schultz said.

Starbucks grew its rewards members to 30.4 million, up 15% over last year. On February 13, Starbucks plans to change its Starbucks Rewards program. Consumers are upset that coffee and lattes will require more stars to redeem for free.

Are you a Starbucks insider with insight to share? Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at nluna@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider