Former Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. and McDonald’s executive John Dawson has been named president and chief executive of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf chain, effective Jan. 1, the company said Wednesday.

Dawson will replace Mel Elias, who will assume a position on the Los Angeles-based company’s board. Elias has been president and CEO since 2008, and has been with the company since it opened its first franchise locations in Singapore in 1996.

Dawson has held various positions at Dunkin’ Brands over the past eight years, most recently serving as global development officer of Dunkin’ Donuts. Prior to Dunkin’, Dawson was vice president of worldwide restaurant development at McDonald’s Corp., responsible for setting the strategic direction of the chain’s global development.

Dawson said he plans to focus on increasing sales and the store base, as well as supporting franchisees, delivering on product quality and providing excellent customer experiences.


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“I’m impressed with the iconic status of the brand, its ‘people first’ culture and its global footprint,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to returning to my native Southern California and working with the management team to accelerate growth of this business.”

In a statement, Elias said he looks forward to assisting with the continued growth of the company as a board member.

“I have very much enjoyed my role with this forward-looking brand,” he said. “In 2013, we have proudly celebrated our landmark 50th anniversary and all that has been accomplished so far. And now it is with great admiration and confidence that I pass on the torch to John to shepherd us into a new age of significance and expansion for The Coffee Bean.”

The leadership shift comes just months after three private-equity firms acquired a significant equity stake in The Coffee Bean, with the goal of accelerating growth in Asia and the U.S.

The three firms include Advent International, which was represented by Will Kussell, former president and chief brand officer of Dunkin’ Donuts, who was known for establishing that brand’s international growth strategy.

Joining Advent are Asian banking and financial services firms CDIB Capital and Mirae Asset Private Equity, both based in Hong Kong. Shareholders prior to the deal have maintained a significant stake, including members of the Sassoon family, led by brothers Sunny and Victor Sassoon.

Founded in 1963, The Coffee Bean has more than 900 stores in nearly 30 countries, including roughly 313 in the U.S., of which 178 are company owned. About 629 international locations are mostly franchise operated.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout