The Wendy’s Company (NASDAQ: WEN) announced today further progress on its system optimization initiative and a transition in its operations leadership team.
John Peters, Senior Vice President of North America Operations, has formed a partnership with prominent Wendy’s franchisee Rick Holland, and together they have signed an agreement to purchase 38 company-operated restaurants in the Phoenix market as part of Wendy’s system optimization initiative. Peters will also lead operations for 73 Wendy’s restaurants that Holland currently owns in Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, South Dakota and Ohio. The Phoenix transaction is scheduled to close in the first quarter of 2014 and will include an agreement for new restaurant growth and re-imaging.
Bob Wright will rejoin Wendy’s in early December and will assume the Chief Operations Officer role in the first quarter of 2014 after a transition period with Peters. Wright, a restaurant industry veteran with a broad leadership background including previous Wendy’s brand experience, will work together with Peters through the first quarter of 2014 to ensure an orderly transition.
Wendy’s On Track to Sell 425 Company-Operated Restaurants in the United States
Wendy’s announced plans in July to geographically concentrate its restaurant ownership through the sale of about 425 Company-operated restaurants in 13 U.S. markets, primarily in the West. Restaurants are being sold to qualified operators on a market-by-market basis, with the completion of this process targeted by second quarter 2014. Included in these agreements are specific plans to reimage certain restaurants in Wendy’s contemporary Image Activation restaurant design. They also include development plans for new restaurants.
As a result of system optimization, Wendy’s President and Chief Executive Officer Emil Brolick said: “The Company expects to generate a higher operating margin and stronger free cash flow, along with further enhancing the quality of its earnings with a more predictable revenue stream from a higher percentage of royalty and rental income. This transaction with John Peters will ensure that an important market – Phoenix – will be led by a superb operator and an experienced veteran of the Wendy’s system.”
John Peters said: “I am very excited about the opportunity to become a Wendy’s franchisee after more than 30 years with the Company. We are driving this brand toward a great future. We have a strong product pipeline, the best marketing awareness since the Dave Thomas campaign, a powerful way to connect with consumers through Image Activated facilities, and our restaurant operations continue to improve.”
As part of its system optimization initiative, the Company has now sold or has announced signed agreements to sell 210 total restaurants this year. Transactions or agreements announced to date include:
- 54 restaurants, including one in development, in the Salt Lake City market to a subsidiary of NPC International, Inc., in addition to 24 restaurants in the Kansas City market to NPC.
- 24 restaurants, along with two future locations, in the Seattle market to Cedar Enterprises, Inc., a long-time Wendy’s franchisee
- 30 restaurants in the St. Louis market to BB St. Louis, LLC, a partnership headed by current Wendy’s franchisee and former National Basketball Association great Junior Bridgeman, along with current NBA star Chauncey Billups
- A total of 40 restaurants to eight franchisees in other markets
Bob Wright to Lead Operations; Former President & COO of Charley’s Grilled Subs
Most recently, Wright was President, Chief Operating Officer and interim CEO of the Charley’s Grilled Subs chain. In this general management role, he led all company and franchise operations, marketing, supply chain, training, HR and business analysis for the Charley’s system, which has more than 500 restaurants in 47 states and U.S. territories and 20 countries.
Previously, he was Executive Vice President of Company and Franchise Operations for Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, where he was responsible for more than 800 restaurants operating as Checkers and Rally’s.
Prior to his most recent roles, Wright held a number of positions of increasing responsibility, scope and complexity for Wendy’s International, Inc., including Vice President – Operations and Training Integration; President of the Cafe Express brand; Director of Area Operations; and Franchise Area Director.
Wright started his career with Domino’s Pizza, where he held a number of roles supporting both company and franchise operations over an 11-year period. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from LeTourneau University in Longview, TX, where he was an honors graduate.
“We are thrilled about Bob returning to Wendy’s,” said Brolick. “He’s a tremendous leader, has extensive restaurant operating knowledge and possesses valuable Wendy’s brand experience,” said Brolick. “He will focus on further improvement in delivering the brand promise for customers in all of our North America restaurants and he will champion our People Activation initiative to create ‘A Cut Above’ experience in our restaurants.”