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Sarah Halzack

The CEO of Starbucks Just Passed His Biggest Leadership Test Yet

He's been proactive about controversy, suggesting he can handle other challenges too.
Photographer: Stephen Brashear

Starbucks Corp. has had its share of challenges since CEO Kevin Johnson took the helm a year ago. Its annual same-store sales growth in 2017 was its weakest since 2009, and traffic largely has been sluggish at its North American restaurants.

But in recent days, Johnson has faced his biggest leadership test yet, in the controversy over the arrest of two black patrons in one of the chain’s Philadelphia stores. So far, his handling of the matter suggests he has what it takes to steer the Starbucks empire.