Brian Niccol, Chipotle's Incoming CEO, Inspires Hope Among Investors


In 18 of the past 20 quarters, Taco Bell has reported growing sales at established USA restaurants - better than many of its rivals, including McDonald's Corp and Chipotle, said Maxim Group analyst Stephen Anderson.

CNBC's Jim Cramer on Wednesday criticized Chipotle Mexican Grill's new CEO pick of Taco Bell chief Brian Niccol, saying the move goes against everything the burrito chain stands for. Brands (YUM) released that Brian Niccol will step down from his role as Taco Bell CEO to assume a senior position at another public company, effective immediately.

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

Steve Ells established Chipotle in the year 1993 in Colorado and now it is about 2,400 branches big including 37 outside the US.

The company also indicated it wanted to replicate some of Taco Bell's social media savviness.

So, when Chipotle announced on Tuesday that it had tapped Taco Bell's CEO to lead the chain's turnaround, some people were confused. At Chipotle's core is delicious food, which I will look to pair up with consistently great customer experiences.

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"I will also focus on dialing up Chipotle's cultural relevance through innovation in menu and digital communications", he said.

"This will attract customers, return the brand to growth, deliver value for shareholders and create opportunities for employees", he said. Julie FelssMasino joined Taco Bell in January 2018.

Neil Saunders, managing partner at GlobalData, expects Niccol to bring both operational discipline and fresh thinking to Chipotle at a time when it needs it most.

A norovirus outbreak in late 2015 sickened more than 300 Chipotle customers across 14 states, hospitalizing 22.

Nicole Miller Regan, senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray, said her team had been impressed by Taco Bell's approach to menu innovation, marketing creativity and consistent operations under Niccol's leadership. Who knows for sure, but for now the Restaurant Finance Monitor Stock Index will keep Chipotle out of the companies included in the index. "It will be on the new CEO to really separate his management skills from the specific strategies that were implemented at Taco Bell".

"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.