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Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc has hired Taco Bell's Brian Niccol as its new chief executive to turnaround the once red-hot burrito chain that has been battered by food safety lapses.
Head of Yum Brand's Taco Bell since 2015, Niccol, 43, will replace Chipotle founder Steve Ells on March 5. Niccol is known for bringing 'Doritos Locos Tacos' and mobile ordering to Taco Bell.
Ells - Chain - Idea - Food - Prowess
Ells who built the chain on the idea that food could be both healthy and fast but failed to nail the operational prowess needed to guide it through several health scares.
Shares of Denver, Colorado-based Chipotle were up 11.8 percent at $281.03 in extended trading, still less than half their $742 high set in 2015, before sales-crushing E.coli, Salmonella and norovirus outbreaks sickened hundreds of U.S. customers.
Chipotle - Produce - Meat - Food - Niccol
While Chipotle excelled by promoting organic produce and antibiotic-free meat to distance itself from fast food, Niccol used feisty marketing and unusual food creations, such as the Doritos tacos and Nacho Fries, to excite customers. He also took aim at Chipotle's customers, starting a higher-end Cantina chain and launching a healthier Cantina menu at Taco Bell.
Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, said Niccol's operational discipline and creativity would be good for Chipotle, but not a guarantee of success.
'Chipotle - Health - Scares - Lot - Work
'Chipotle still hasn´t recovered from its health scares and has a lot of work to do to rebuild confidence. The menu and concept are tired and customers are less enthusiastic about the brand than they once were. On top of all of this, there is a lot more value-focused competition in the market,' he said.
Taco Bell's turnaround began under the leadership of Greg Creed, who is now CEO of the fast-food chain's parent company, Yum Brands, and continued under Niccol, who joined the chain in 2011 as chief marketing and innovation officer, was president...
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