Chipotle, Taco Bell Update Management Roles


"Following an unfounded lawsuit that sharply slowed Taco Bell's momentum in 2011, Niccol was a key player in first stabilizing the brand and then reaccelerating growth", Senatore said. He also introduced things like breakfast, mobile ordering and payments at Taco Bell.

On the whole, analysts polled by Bloomberg think shares of Chipotle could reach $301 in the next year, 4% above Wednesday's prices.

Ells, who co-founded the one-time Wall Street darling in 1993, said in November he would step down after Chipotle found a CEO.

"His expertise in digital technologies, restaurant operations and branding make him a ideal fit for Chipotle as we seek to enhance our customer experience, drive sales growth and make our brand more relevant, " Ells, 52, said of Niccol. "Under his leadership, the chain was frequently the best-performing subsidiary of Yum Brands, which also owns Pizza Hut and KFC", reports Tiffany Hsu for the New York Times.

Williams, Taco Bell's CFO, was tapped in November to head worldwide operations when Melissa Lora retires this summer. Chipotle's stock traded as high as $720 in 2015 before the company's foodborne illness problems became widespread, and last week the shares were trading as low as $250.

Tarantino said Niccol's hiring made his team "more optimistic about the long-term fundamental outlook for Chipotle".

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"On a spectrum of options, it's certainly a safer, more reassuring choice", Seaborn said.

However, they cautioned that Niccol - the man behind "Doritos Locos Tacos" and a savvy marketer who could transform Chipotle's menu - would need at least a year to make an impact as chief executive.

Niccol's prior experience at Taco Bell could result in a "culture clash" at Chipotle, as he is an expert at delivering cheap food to consumers very quickly - and safely, to his credit, Cramer said.

Succeeding him at Taco Bell are Julie Felss Masino, president of Taco Bell North America, and Liz Williams, president of Taco Bell International, who will jointly assume leadership of the Taco Bell division in their respective roles, reporting to Yum!

In a statement, Chipotle praised Niccol's expertise in digital technologies and branding. Brands CEO Greg Creed, the company announced earlier yesterday.