LOS ANGELES Jan 29 (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp Chief Executive Howard Schultz on Wednesday said he was promoting Chief Financial Officer Troy Alstead to the new position of chief operating officer, allowing Schultz to focus on expanding the coffee shop chain's e-commerce business.
Alstead will take over oversight of the brick-and-mortar shops, where traffic rose 4 percent during the quarter that included the holiday season. Starbucks also saw a record $1.4 billion loaded onto gift cards during that quarter.
The company, a leader is mobile payments and digital marketing, for years has been finding ways to link and strengthen its sales by tying together its cafe business with selling its products at grocery stores and other retailers.
"This is not about succession planning and this is not about me in any planning to or even thinking about leaving he company," Schultz, Starbucks founder and chief executive, told Reuters in a telephone interview.
The intensified emphasis on e-commerce, including mobile payments and gift cards, is an opportunity for Starbucks "to create new channels of revenue and profit outside four walls of stores .. amid a seismic shift" in the way consumers are shopping, Schultz said.
The new initiative includes mobile payments projects, said Schultz, who declined to elaborate.
Seattle-based Starbucks is an investor in mobile payments provider Square. When asked if Starbucks planned to buy that company, which processes mobile payments for Starbucks and other retailers, Schultz said Wednesday's announcement was not about an acquisition.
Schultz did say that future programs would include the use of "Starbucks currency in other retailers outside Starbucks."
Starbucks already allows users of its loyalty and payment card to earn "stars" - or points - when they buy coffee at a participating grocery store. Those stars can then be redeemed at a Starbucks cafe.