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Starbucks COO Takes Permanent Coffee Break

Troy Alstead, Chief Operating Officer of Starbucks, is pictured on stage during the company's annual shareholders meeting in SeattleTroy Alstead, Chief Operating Officer of Starbucks, is pictured on stage during the company's annual shareholders meeting in Seattle
Troy Alstead.Photograph by David Ryder — Reuters

Starbucks (SBUX) said on Tuesday that one of the executives instrumental to its ascent would not be returning to the coffee company now that his year-long sabbatical is over.

Chief Operating Officer Troy Alstead resigned a year after he went on an indefinite leave of absence, Starbucks said in a regulatory filing. Alstead was seen as Starbucks’ second-in-command to CEO Howard Schultz. Alstead’s resignation was effective February 29.

Alstead went on sabbatical (a “Coffee Break” in Starbucks’ corporate parlance) just over a year ago, saying he wanted to spend time with his family. At the time he said that the talent bench at Starbucks was deep enough for him to feel he could go on indefinite leave. He had been with the company for 23 years prior to the sabbatical and played a major role in helping Schultz shake off an 8-year business slump.

Despite his absence, Starbucks has thrived, with comparable sales rising in the United States in 2015 and the company continuing to expand globally, including a plan to enter Italy.

Alstead became operations chief in 2014, and was at one point seen as a possible CEO to succeed Schultz. He had also served as finance chief, and chief administrative officer in previous roles at Starbucks.

Last year, Starbucks named Kevin Johnson, a former CEO of tech company Juniper, to fill in, a move that has helped the coffee giant’s development of services like mobile ordering and its industry leading app.