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

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc

Ells announced that he will step down from his position as the CEO of Chipotle back in November a year ago, but said he would hold the position until a new chief was appointed.

The firm rode a surge of interest in more upmarket fast food restaurants, but stumbled in recent years as it faced competition from newer chains and a series of food safety incidents that hurt the firm's reputation.

In a statement Tuesday, Niccol said he wants to dial up "Chipotle's cultural relevance" through changes in its menu and online presence.

So the company turned to Taco Bell, arguably its arch nemesis from the very beginning. The new chief executive officer will be Brian Niccol, who ran Taco Bell for three years and met sweet success courting crowds with indulgent dishes such as Doritos Locos Tacos and A.M. Crunch Wraps.

Ells is likely not the only management change, say industry experts. Brands, Inc., has been tapped to lead Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., effective March 5.

In its announcement, Chipotle cited Mr Niccol's experience with digital technology, restaurant operations and branding. For Chipotle, Niccol is "probably the most opposite guy you could possibly find", he said.

Shares of Chipotle were up 11 percent at $279 in extended trading. "'It will be critical that chairman and founder Steve Ells gives him the autonomy to succeed'".

"Niccol was critical to Taco Bell's turnaround, but we note CMG is starting in a position of far greater weakness", Cowen analyst Andrew Charles said.

As Niccol departs, Julie Felss Masino, 47, president of Taco Bell North America, and Liz Williams, 42, president of Taco Bell International, are splitting his duties in their respective roles and will report to Yum! As president, she is responsible for ensuring Taco Bell continues to deliver same-store sales growth by driving innovation, new store development and digital and technology initiatives. Ackman, in a November appearance on CNBC, called the company "imminently fixable" and pointed to potential optimizations such as embracing drive-throughs, extending hours, adding a breakfast menu and improving online ordering. "They don't like to get you in on convenience", he said.

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