Troubled Chipotle on the hunt for a new CEO
Chipotle Mexican Grill rallied after founder Steve Ells agreed to step down as chief executive officer, clearing the way for a new leader with the operational expertise needed to pull the burrito chain out of a two-year slump.
Ells, a trained chef who started the company in 1993, will hand over the reins once a new CEO is found, Chipotle said on Wednesday. He will continue as head of the board, taking the title of executive chairman.
Chipotle has struggled to bounce back from an E. coli crisis in 2015 that sickened customers around the U.S. While the company had begun to restore its reputation in the past year, a norovirus incident in Virginia and a viral video of mice at a Dallas location sparked a fresh round of negative headlines.
“It is clear that we need to move faster to make improvements,” Ells said in a statement. “Simply put, we need to execute better to ensure our future success.”
Investors applauded the move. The stock jumped as much as 5.4 percent to $301.32 on Wednesday, marking the biggest intraday gain since April. It had been down 24 percent this year through Tuesday’s close.
Ells had to navigate a minefield of problems over the past two years, beginning with a string of foodborne-illness outbreaks. Norovirus, E. coli and salmonella contaminations sickened about 500 diners between July and December of 2015. Last year, one of the company’s top four executives was arrested on cocaine charges. Mark Crumpacker, who led marketing efforts since 2009, returned to work in September 2016 after completing a rehabilitation program.
The Denver-based company also lacked an operations expert during a time when its food-safety protocols were under fire. Ells’s previously had a co-CEO, Monty Moran, who was more focused on day-to-day operations. But Moran left that role in December 2016, leaving Ells in […]