Chipotle hires away Taco Bell's CEO

Chipotle was founded by outgoing CEO Steve Ells in Colorado in 1993

Shares in Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (NYSE:CMG) caught fire overnight on Tuesday after the burrito chain revealed it was bringing in Taco Bell boss Brian Niccol as its new chief executive.

Founder and current CEO at Chipotle Steve Ells through a prepared statement said that Niccol has proven to be a world class CEO, who will bring leadership and fresh energy to push excellence across all aspects of the Chipotle business.

Ells added that the expertise of Niccol in restaurant operations, branding and digital technologies makes him the flawless fit for the chain as it seeks to enhance the customer experience, increase sales growth, and make the brand much more relevant.

In 2011, Niccol began his career with Taco Bell serving as the brand's president between 2013 and 2014 prior to taking the reins as CEO in January of 2015.

"Today's Gen Z and millennial generations consider restaurants a lifestyle choice", restaurant industry trend expert Darren Tristano tells Whitten via email.

The Denver-based company has struggled to recover from a foodborne illness outbreak in 2015 that included 55 cases of E. coli O26 across 11 states followed by a norovirus outbreak at a Boston-based restaurant that reportedly sickened 80 individuals.

Brian Niccol, now chief executive officer of the Taco Bell division at Yum!

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Niccol also shepherded Taco Bell when it pivoted its marketing philosophy.

"At Chipotle's core is delicious food, which I will look to pair up with consistently great customer experiences", Niccol said in a press release. Niccol has run Taco Bell for three years.

Last year, Chipotle also suffered a security breach involving customer payment data, while new menu additions did not entice diners as it had hoped.

What's that mean for Taco Bell?

As President of Taco Bell International, Liz Williams is responsible for the brand strategy and performance of the International business.

It likely could add nachos and new beverages, including margaritas, with minimal disruption, but breakfast would be a heavier lift since workers use the morning hours to prepare food for the day ahead, said Scott, who expects more executive changes at Chipotle and restaurant franchising over time. Prior to joining Taco Bell, she was principal in the consumer and retail practices in US and Asian markets at The Boston Consulting Group.

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