Chipotle (CMG) Soars As Former Taco Bell Chief Named CEO


Chipotle, the popular fast casual food chain, named a new CEO late yesterday.

Brian Niccol is moving from Taco Bell to Chipotle (CMG) and takes over as CEO on March 5.

Niccol said, "I am very excited to be joining Chipotle at this pivotal time in its history".

In November, Ells, Chipotle's founder, announced he planned to step down as CEO of the company amid struggles relating to a 2015 E. coli outbreak at several of its 2,350 locations.

Chipotle's press release also points out Taco Bell's social media savvy - it has 1.9 million Twitter followers compared to Chipotle's 882,000 - indicating that's another area where Chipotle is looking to improve.

Niccol, who's led Taco Bell since 2015, has been credited with helping to turn around sales and speeding the introduction of technology at the chain.

Through a prepared statement, Niccol said he wants Chipotle to provide customer service that is consistently great.

Part of the success is attributed to mastering mobile ordering and launching breakfast, and Niccol in a statement referred to using menu innovations and digital communications at Chipotle. "This will attract customers, return the brand to growth, deliver value for shareholders and create opportunities for employees." said Niccol. Who knows for sure, but for now the Restaurant Finance Monitor Stock Index will keep Chipotle out of the companies included in the index.

"No doubt, the company hopes to win back some of the millennial customers Chipotle lost to Taco Bell".

Williams previously served as chief financial officer of Taco Bell, leading six years of strong sales, profit and brand growth. Now (7:49), CMG is trading at $281.00 per share after a gain of $29.67 per share or 11.81% thus far today.

"We're hard-pressed to find a better fit for Chipotle's CEO position than Brian Niccol", Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy said in a note. As a result of Niccol's departure, Julie Felss Masino, president, Taco Bell North America, and Liz Williams, president, Taco Bell International, will assume leadership of Yum!

"From the beginning of the search for a new CEO, we noted that we wanted an experienced leader with a passion for driving excellence across every aspect of our business, and that was a top consideration for the search committee throughout the process". Brands CEO Greg Creed, the company announced earlier yesterday. "Chipotle doesn't have another year to muddle around for change to occur".