Former Starbucks Chief Operating Officer Troy Alstead has resigned from the company permanently after a year of unpaid leave, removing a possible successor to Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz.

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Former Starbucks Chief Operating Officer Troy Alstead has resigned from the company permanently after a year of unpaid leave, removing a possible successor to Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz.

Alstead notified the Seattle-based coffee-shop chain on Feb. 24 that he wouldn’t return, according to a filing. Kevin Johnson, a former Juniper Networks CEO, has served as Starbucks’ COO since Alstead went on leave.

Alstead, a 23-year veteran of Starbucks, was considered a contender to succeed Schultz until he unexpectedly stepped down last year to spend more time with his family. Under Johnson, Starbucks has reported strong sales results, fueled by mobile-ordering technology and new food items.

Starbucks has become a leader in technology with both its order-ahead and mobile-payment capabilities. Its rewards program, which boasts millions of U.S. members, also has helped boost revenue by locking in customers. In the latest quarter, same-store sales in the company’s Americas region jumped 9 percent.

Starbucks was little changed at $60.05 as of 4:35 p.m. in late trading in New York. The shares also were flat this year through the close on Tuesday.