What is in this article?:
From emerging concepts to watch like Zoës Kitchen to the largest restaurant company in the world, McDonald's, leadership is always the driving force behind successful brands. Nation's Restaurant News points to 10 restaurant executives to watch in 2013 from brands such as Popeyes, California Pizza Kitchen, Sbarro and more.
President and CEO, McDonald’s Corp.
Our final pick for the 2013 executives to watch list stepped into the role of chief executive of the largest restaurant company in the world, McDonald’s Corp., last July. Replacing Jim Skinner, who had worked at McDonald’s for 41 years and had served as chief executive since 2004, Thompson takes the helm at a rocky time.
McDonald’s faltered for the first time in years this winter, when its U.S. division posted its first monthly same-store sales decrease in nine years, leading to a stock sell-off and making investors and analysts wary of the restaurant sector’s health in this unsteady economy. Thompson responded swiftly by replacing McDonald’s USA president Jan Fields in November, and also by posting a return to positive same-store sales that same month. Still, the year ahead may be tough for the chain, as same-store sales comparisons to a very solid 2012 could prove daunting.
But Thompson is no stranger to the brand nor its sales cycles and has promised to stay the course using McDonald’s ‘Plan to Win’ to focus on menu, marketing and unit-level execution. Heading into 2013, McDonald’s, which operates or franchises more than 34,000 restaurants worldwide, plans on having a faster and more prolific pipeline of new products than it did in 2012, and to heavily market both value pricing and premium products like the newBacon Onion sandwich.
Three bonus picks for 2013:
Adding three more picks to the group of 10 — a perfect 13 for 2013 — Nation’s Restaurant News looked not just at executives, but the companies making waves in the year ahead. Wall Street is high on Starbucks, menu trend watchers can’t get enough of Taco Bell’s innovation, and brands from overseas, like 7-Eleven, will continue to target the United States as a growth market. Be sure to keep those brands, and their executive leadership, on your watch list for the New Year.
Wall Street’s Pick: Howard Schultz, CEO, Starbucks Corp.
Menu Watchers’ Pick: Brian Niccol, chief marketing and innovation officer, Taco Bell
International Pick: Joe DePinto, CEO, 7-Eleven
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly totaled the chain’s unit count. Zoës has 75 restaurant locations. The story also misstated its growth strategy. Zoes is looking to grow with company-owned units.