I saw in the news today the announcement that Darcy Willson-Rymer is leaving the position of managing director of Starbucks UK and Ireland. Moving into his position is Kris Engskov. Kris leaves his position as Regional Vice President of the Pacific Northwest Division to assume his new role in the United Kingdom. (The actual transition is slated to happen in September of this year.)
Here is the link to the news article I saw published today by guardian.co.uk:
Kris Engskov to be managing director of Starbucks UK.
What does all this mean? I can only share my two cents which is simply the perspective of a customer who has met Kris and Darcy before. Since Kris is right here in Seattle, I have actually met him a number of times. I know he will be sorely missed. I listen to what store partners say about DMs, RDs, RVPs, and others at the top of Starbucks. I don’t really know much because all I usually have is some secondhand information which may or may not be correct. What I do know is that every partner whom I have ever talked to about Kris, likes him. Kris has a presence, and he is dynamic. Well, and half the baristas have a crush on his good looks too … okay, that part is a joke.
I know that he’s the kind of guy who is always friendly and welcoming. I saw him at Olive Way Starbucks when it re-opened and he joked with me that he knew I would be the first person in the door when it re-opened as a beer and wine Starbucks. Once in a blue moon, I would reach out to him with a question or a request here or there, and he always replied back in some manner. I saw him again this year at the annual meeting of shareholders, and even though he was clearly busy, he quickly said hi to me, and said with a smile in his voice, “Hey do you have your question ready for Howard?” (Clearly he was just having fun with me.) Kris is also the kind of person who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. I saw him at the marquee community service event, and he was there working in the sunshine and doing community service just like everyone else. At that same event, he clearly was meeting and greeting as many partners as possible – he believes in connecting. And then I saw him again at the July 5, 2011, community service park clean event in Seattle. I saw him after he came back from picking up garbage with everyone else. I saw his huge bag of garbage and realized he’d worked his tail off doing park clean up!
As is clear, I’m a Kris Engskov fan. The Pacific Northwest will miss him, and whoever takes place has super big shoes to fill.
I know Darcy too. He occasionally made trips to Seattle. We connected over coffee. I found Darcy on twitter, and we talked about coffee, and at one point I realized that the UK sold Arabian Mocha Sanani coffee for a short while after it was discontinued in the U.S. (That coffee is no longer offered by Starbucks at all). On twitter, I joked with him that I wanted him to bring me a bag next time he was in Seattle, and sure enough, he did. Darcy has a genuine passion for coffee. He’s a very nice person. I don’t know what happened or why he is leaving, but I can definitely say that UK partners will miss him.
I was afraid that Kris going to the UK meant that he was going to leave Starbucks too. It seems like such a big journey and maybe the UK job burns people out (I have no idea). I was reassured by a partner today (who knows Kris better than I) that Kris is really here for Starbucks and not leaving.
There you have it. Both Darcy and Kris are great partners. Goodbye Darcy. I wish you the best in your new career; and I wish you a heart full of happiness for the rest of your life. And Kris, please come back to Seattle soon!
(My apologies to readers who are not in the PNW or the UK, who may not find this article of interest to them).
@BostonStarbucksRebel – Well it is an odd coincidence that just about 10 days ago Starbucks announced that Michelle Gass would lead the Europe and Middle East markets … but I don’t have any thing to connect the two big changes together?
Oh, I don’t think it is coincidence at all.
Change is good!
@Karl Dahlquist – All I can say is that the timing is odd.
Mel, do you remember that? I had a conversation with him on Memorial Day of the last year. He is the gentleman who is polite with kindness.
I think that Kris Engskov will accomplish big reform in Starbucks UK.
It does seem a little odd… I’ve gotten over the shock of it and from the sounds of things, Kris seems like a really great leader. I wonder what he’ll bring to the UK.
Although I am not in these markets, I find this quite interesting. I am interested in seeing how the top people in each region operate and communicate with partners and customers because I find it is quite different from region to region. I know the DM here but would not know the RD or RVP at all and even the DM I have not seen in ages at my local store. From what you say about Kris it seems that others could learn a lesson or two from him.
just wanted you to know I’m here, reading! but you’re right…….I don’t have much to say on this one. I do know that just locally the re-arrangement of various postions does not always make snese (to those of us ‘out’ here) but, then it’s that way with almost every job I think.
I was in shock when I read the news. Darcy has been great. So approachable. I even got that 45 mins 1 to 1 with him earlier this year. He does have a passion for coffee and will be sadly missed here.
Change is good, but I wonder how good? Profits are down here in Ireland. The only new store which has opened is a licensed one in the past while after several high profile closures. Starbucks are not the market leader here, in fact well behind with presence in only two counties and airports. I hope the Irish Strategy strengthens after this.
I see Kris is not active on twitter, something which Darcy is and certainly added to his charm and ablity to connect with the customers. He will be missed and I wish Kris all the best in his new position over here.
@Denise & @purple There are so many stores that it’s possible an RVP gets into each one like once a year, at best.RVPs have such a big region.I know Kris tries to connect as much as he can but I assume he is pulled in 20,000 directions at once all the time.
@Patrick – I really thought Darcy was wonderful too. I don’t really understand the problems in the UK market. There is fierce competition in the US too. Seattle Starbucks have customers pulled away to small indy shops, and in New England people go to Dunkin Donuts, and guess maybe in some places people migrate to McDonalds.
There is a @krisengskov profile but there is nothing to see. He made a few tweets and then it seems like he just gave up on twitter. I would love to sit down and talk about twitter with him! There is such a HUGE #Starbuckscommunity on twitter, and the UK & Ireland presence is significant.
As someone who works for Starbucks, and knows Kris, I am very sad to see Kris leave us here in the PNW, but very excited for his new role and next chapter in his life! Way to go Kris!!
@Greg – Really great thoughts. I listen to what store partners saying, and the PNW really likes Kris a lot. Hopefully partners in the UK will embrace him too – I assume they will.
@Nob – I remember that phone call well on Memorial Day 2010. I don’t put everything in the blog articles. 😉 You and I needed an ssc person on a holiday, and one phone call to Kris and all worked out perfectly.
It is nice to see the connection partners have with upper management. From a customer’s view, it is difficult to see it especially when you either do not know the upper mgmt people or see them interacting with partners. Overall, what kind of communications do partners have to make input with upper mgmt if they want to make suggestions, etc.? Also, how many regions are there in the USA? How is it broken down? I believe if partners have the ability to get involved by making suggestions, offering changes, etc. it can only make the customer’s experience as well as the partner’s experience so much better.
i will miss kris tremendously… he’s inspired us managers in the pacific northwest to see amazing results over the past few years. his favorite saying is, “there’s never been a more important time in the history of the company for the pacific northwest to BE the pacific northwest.” we all know it by heart. his legacy will live on!
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Oh the drama at Starbucks will never end. Maybe Michelle Gass asked for Kris assistance is helping to run the UK and Ireland markets?