“Watch out, folks, there is a new sheriff in town!”
Chipotle Mexican Grill has hired Brian Niccol as its new Chief Executive Officer.
Shares jumped at least 11% before the market opened Wednesday on this news.
Niccol comes to Chipotle from Taco Bell, and he is known for his innovative food creations such as the ‘Doritos Locos Tacos’ and Nacho fries.
Chipotle and Taco Bell are different from each other in terms of strategy and position. What works for one may not work for the other. However, Chipotle has been pounded with food safety controversies along with an uninteresting menu and comparatively higher pricing. It needs someone to bring it back to health.
Some of the changes expected out of this new leadership include new dishes on the menu as well as less expensive but high-quality food. Chipotle could use a break from its routine and will benefit from improvements to its offering.
When it comes to pricing, Chipotle tried to woo customers back after its setback over food safety with low prices and promotions, but this did not translate into a longer-term benefit. The restaurant chain needs to try something better and permanent which it might under the new leadership.
There are speculations that additions to the menu could include breakfast options and alcohol. (No, not together!) Niccol was part of Taco Bell’s team when the food chain launched these new initiatives a few years back. Chances are he could try these out at Chipotle too.
The former Taco Bell chief also has a reputation for being savvy in marketing and digital technologies. He is credited with bringing mobile ordering to Taco Bell and can be expected to wave the same wand at Chipotle. The company could use some fresh advertising, social media marketing as well as investments in the mobile and digital space.
It goes without saying that safety and health will always be of utmost importance. Chipotle is continuing its work in this area to make sure these incidents do not reprise as it will affect the food chain’s already tarnished reputation.
Niccol has a tough job ahead of him, and his appointment is not an indication that all the problems will magically disappear. There is much work to be done, but there is also hope that the new CEO can get it done and there is trust in his capabilities for the same.
Let us hope that this is indeed a new chapter for Chipotle.