Starbucks’ executive chairman and board of directors member Howard Schultz has decided to end his four decade long career, effective 26 June.

Following his transition, Schultz will focus on the launch of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Milan on 6 September and the New York Roastery in late October.

He joined Starbucks in 1981 in Seattle and purchased the company a few years later with the help of local investors.

During his 40 year tenure with the coffeehouse chain, he expanded the brand from 11 stores to more than 28,000 stores in 77 countries across the world.

The company has achieved a 21,000% gain in the value of its stock price since its initial public offering in 1992 under Schultz’s leadership.

“He’s helped Starbucks earn the respect of millions around the world by always being true to a higher calling.”

On 3 April last year Schultz transitioned from the role of CEO to executive chairman, focusing on the company’s social impact initiatives.

He also focused on the innovation and global development of Starbucks’ premium reserve brand, including its Reserve Roasteries, Reserve stores and its partnership with artisanal Italian bakery, Princi.

Starbucks CEO and board of directors member Kevin Johnson said: “There are no words to fully express our gratitude to Howard for the extraordinary company he has built.

“He’s helped Starbucks earn the respect of millions around the world by always being true to a higher calling, and always being bold in creating a better future.

“He’s taught all of us that it’s possible to be a very different kind of public company. That must, and will, continue on my watch.”

The company’s board of directors has named Myron E. Ullman as the new chairman of the board and Mellody Hobson as vice chair of the board following Schultz’s retirement.

The company plans to award Schultz with the title of chairman emeritus.