After turning Taco Bell into a lifestyle brand and introducing breakfast at the quick service restaurant (QSR), CEO Brian Niccol is heading to Chipotle Mexican Grill. Chipotle’s shares jumped more than 10 percent following the news, CNBC reported.
“Brian is a proven, world-class executive, who will bring fresh energy and leadership to drive excellence across every aspect of our business,” Chipotle’s CEO Steve Ells said in a statement. “His expertise in digital technologies, restaurant operations and branding make him a perfect fit for Chipotle as we seek to enhance our customer experience, drive sales growth and make our brand more relevant.”
Niccol, who came to Taco Bell in 2011, became CEO in 2015 after holding the position of president. He brought mobile ordering and payments to Taco Bell’s 7,000 U.S. restaurants, and could offer expertise in digital initiatives at Chipotle. Niccol might also introduce breakfast, last night eats and other new offerings at the QSR.
Chipotle had been on the hunt for a new CEO since November. At the time, the company announced it was looking to bring in an executive to revitalize the company and that Ells would step down and become the executive chairman of the firm.
In a February earnings call, Ells had noted the CEO search was “well under way,” but did not offer a timeline for the new hire. He also said his own efforts would be tied to innovation once the company found a replacement.
“As we work hard to restore our brand, I believe we can capitalize on opportunities, including in areas such as digital experience, menu innovation, delivery, catering and domestic and international expansion [will] deliver significant growth,” Ells said.