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).