Chipotle looks to fast-food chain Taco Bell for next CEO

FILE- In this June 9, 2015, file photo, Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol speaks during an interview at The Associated Press in New York. Chipotle Mexican Grill announced Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, that its Board of Directors has appointed Niccol as chief executive officer and a member of the Board, effective March 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

NEW YORK — Chipotle, hoping to rebuild its business after a series of food safety scares, has named an executive from fast-food chain Taco Bell as its next CEO.

Brian Niccol, chief executive at Taco Bell chain for three years, will start at Chipotle next month. He'll be tasked with helping turn around the burrito chain, which has long positioned itself as a step up from fast food.

Chipotle has been trying to win back customers since 2015, when its sales plunged after an E. coli outbreak. Earlier this month, the chain said a key sales figure rose in the fourth quarter, but mostly because it raised menu prices and paid less for avocados. Fewer customers came to its restaurants during the quarter, the company said.

Niccol, who is 43, helped launch breakfast at Taco Bell and rolled out mobile ordering across its restaurants. In a statement Tuesday, Niccol said he wants to dial up "Chipotle's cultural relevance" through changes in its menu and online presence. "This will attract customers," he said.

The company had also said earlier this month that it plans to upgrade restaurants by getting rid of dim lighting and replacing cooking equipment.

Chipotle had been searching for a new CEO since November, when founder Steve Ells announced he would step down from the role and become executive chairman when a replacement was found. The company said it was looking for someone with turnaround expertise who could help build customer trust and improve sales.

Ells founded Chipotle as a single restaurant in Denver in 1993. He had previously shared the top job as a co-CEO.

Taco Bell owner Yum Brands Inc. said Tuesday that two executives, Julie Felss Masino and Liz Williams, will lead the Taco Bell division.

Shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. soared 12 percent in extended trading Tuesday.

Must Read

Lawyer: Timbuktu residents felt shame after sites...

Aug 24, 2016

By reducing historic mausoleums in Timbuktu to dusty piles of rubble, Islamic extremists desecrated...

With economy up, crime down, why are the Dutch...

Mar 6, 2017

The economy is up, unemployment is down and some Dutch prisons are so empty the government has been...

Dutch election rivals clash in televised debate

Mar 13, 2017

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his main rival at national elections, the far-fight populist...

AkzoNobel rejects third takeover bid from PPG...

May 8, 2017

Dutch industrial paints and chemicals company AkzoNobel has rejected a third unsolicited takeover...

UN court orders Pakistan not to execute Indian...

May 18, 2017

The International Court of Justice has ordered Pakistan not to execute an Indian naval officer...

People also read these

Relatives of MH17 victims seek EU help in getting...

Aug 31, 2016

Frustrated relatives of those killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot out of the sky over...

The Latest: French candidate Macron condemns...

Mar 12, 2017

French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron "strongly condemns" what he calls provocations from the...

Turkey dispute timing may benefit Dutch premier...

Mar 12, 2017

Just days away from national elections at which he is seeking a third term in office, Dutch Prime...

Dutch election rivals clash in televised debate

Mar 13, 2017

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his main rival at national elections, the far-fight populist...

The Latest: Dutch populist unleashes anti-Islam...

Mar 14, 2017

Dutch populist Geert Wilders ended his party's election campaign with another stream of invective...