David McDougall, chief executive at Back Yard Burgers.
Back Yard Burgers, the 85-unit, Nashville, Tenn.-based burger brand has named David McDougall its next chief executive.
The appointment comes just three months after Back Yard Burgers Inc. filed for Chapter 11 reorganizationin U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
McDougall replaces James E. Boyd, Jr., who left the company to pursue other interests, according to company spokeswoman Ellen Hartman.McDougall officially stepped into the Back Yard Burgers chief executive position on Jan. 10.
“As the next chapter unfolds for the company with our emergence from restructuring and our fresh new start, we feel that Dave’s seasoned leadership will be invaluable in returning the Back Yard brand to one of prominence,” Jim Phillips, chairman of the board of directors at Back Yard Burgers, said in a statement.
McDougall said he looked forward to getting the company going in a positive direction. He added that he planned to bring the brand back to its roots of serving good burgers and fries, and attempting to dominate the better-burger segment
“There’s no question that the last few years for Back Yard Burgers have been difficult,” McDougall said. “We did, as part of our strategy, enter into a pre-negotiated bankruptcy to get us on better footing.”
As such, the new chief executive said his focus for the next year won’t be on expansion. Rather, he will work on streamlining the company’s existing 22 company-owned and 63 franchised locations.
“Right now our focus is really going to be on our company-owned and franchise locations. A strong focus on unit-level economics,” he said. “Our focus is really going to be ensuring that we have a strong operating model.” Then, he said, the company can begin to expand.
McDougall added that some franchisees have already expressed interest in expanding in the near future, however, no concrete plans are yet in place.
McDougall was most recently president of FranIntel Inc., an Atlanta-based financial and operations services firm that supports midsize franchisors. He served as senior vice president of QSR operations for Atlanta-based NexCen Brands, which operates Marble Slab Creamery, Great American Cookies and Pretzelmaker. He also spent 12 years working at Cinnabon in various roles, including vice president of operations at Focus Brands.
While Back Yard Burgers has struggled in recent years, other chains in the better-burger segment have boomed. Five Guys Burgers and Fries saw its sales increase 38.2 percent in 2011, and Smashburger experienced 116-percent unit growth, to 93 locations in 2010.