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Chipotle names Taco Bell chief executive Brian Niccol as CEO

Chipotle names Taco Bell chief executive Brian Niccol as CEO

Current CEO Steve Ells announced in November 2017 he would leave the chain when a suitable replacement was found.

Chipotle CEO and founder Steve Ells announced a year ago that he would step down in the CEO role and become executive chairman.

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.

The company also indicated it wanted to replicate some of Taco Bell's social media savviness.

Through a prepared statement, Niccol said he wants Chipotle to provide customer service that is consistently great.

"I will also focus on dialing up Chipotle's cultural relevance through innovation in menu and digital communications", he said. Niccol said Taco Bell was shifting from a "food as fuel" restaurant chain to a "food experience" chain. "This will attract customers, return the brand to growth, deliver value for shareholders and create opportunities for employees".

Shares of Chipotle climbed as much as 10% on the news.

Chipotle has faced declines sales and traffic since several food-borne illness outbreaks in 2015 and 2016. Net income for the quarter was $43.8 million, or $1.55 per share, compared with $16 million, or $0.55 per share, the previous year.

Mr Ells founded Chipotle in 1993 in Colorado and guided the company as it expanded to about 2,400 restaurants, including 37 outside the US.

Niccol was responsible for introducing mobile ordering and payment across Taco Bell's 7,000 locations across the US.

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.

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