Jeff O’Neill resigned Monday as president and chief executive of Einstein Noah Restaurant Group Inc.

Board member Michael Arthur has been named interim president and CEO while Einstein Noah searches for a replacement. The company did not give a reason for O’Neill’s sudden departure, which was effective immediately.

Nelson Heumann, chairman of Einstein Noah’s board, thanked O’Neill for his dedicated service.

“Jeff built a strong team, developed a growing franchise and licensing business, and left the company in a better position than when he started. We wish him well as he explores other career opportunities,” Heumann said in a statement.

O’Neill joined Einstein Noah in late 2008 after spending years as a marketing executive with Quaker Oats and PepsiCo, as well as the former head of Priszm Income Fund, a large Canadian franchisee of Yum! Brands Inc.

Arthur has served on Einstein Noah’s board since 2004 and chairs the Lakewood, Colo.-based bagel chain operator’s audit committee. Since 1990, Arthur has headed Michael Arthur and Associates, a consulting and interim management firm specializing in restructurings, business development and strategic, financial, marketing and branding strategies.

He is also the former chief executive of California Federal Bank, a former chief financial officer for the Sizzler chain, and was a financial advisor to Long John Silver’s restaurants.

With the announcement of the leadership change, Einstein Noah also offered preliminary results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2013, which are scheduled for release on Thursday.

The company recorded a 53-percent increase in net income for the fourth quarter, to $4.9 million, or 27 cents per share, compared with $3.2 million, or 18 cents per share a year ago. Revenue for the quarter increased 3.2 percent to $114.2 million, compared with $110.6 million the prior year, and same-store sales for the quarter rose 0.1 percent systemwide.

Net income for the company's fiscal year was $14.6 million, or 82 cents per share, compared with $12.7 million, or 74 cents per share, a year ago.For the year, systemwide same-store sales fell 0.3 percent on revenue of $434.5 million, a 1-percent increase, compared with $427 million in fiscal 2012.

Einstein Noah is parent to the Einstein Bros. Bagels, Noah’s New York Bagels and Manhattan Bagel brands. The system includes more than 850 bakeries in 42 states and the District of Columbia.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
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