Bob Evans revamps management structure

by Erica Shaffer
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Bob Evans revamps management structure while search for new CEO continues.
A former Arby's CEO will lead Bob Evans Farm with an executive team while the search for a new CEO continues.

NEW ALBANY, Ohio – Douglas Benham, formerly president and CEO of Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. was appointed to the newly created role of executive chair by the Bob Evans board of directors. The board created the new position while the search for a new CEO continues.

In addition to the new executive role, the board created an Office of the Chair which is group of executives that will report to Benham. Members of the Office of the Chair include: Mark Hood, CFO, Mike Townsley, president of BEF Foods, John Fisher, executive vice president and chief concept officer, and Colin Daly, general counsel and secretary. The new leadership went into force on Aug. 27.

“As Bob Evans continues to execute its turnaround plan and pursues its strategic objectives, the board believes this new structure will facilitate more cohesive leadership,” Benham said. “I look forward to working with both our management team and the Board to create sustained shareholder value.”

Benham served as president and CEO of Arby’s from 2004 to 2006. He is credited for leading the revitalization of the 40 year-old $3 billion quick service chain. He also is credited for his involvement in the strategic and operational turnarounds at O’Charley’s Inc. and Sonic Corp. while serving as a board member for those companies.

In December 2014, former CEO Steve Davis stepped down from the post following a proxy fight with Sandell Asset Management, a shareholder in the company. The board created the post office of the interim CEO to provide leadership to the company during the search for a new CEO. In addition to the management structure changes, the Transition Committee of the board was dissolved. Mary Kay Haben, who has served as non-executive chair since October 2014, will become lead independent director, while Benham assumes the role of executive chair. Benham will continue to serve as executive chair until the new CEO has completed a transition period. At that time, the company will revert to a structure led by a non-executive chair and a CEO in separate roles.

“Doug Benham brings over 25 years of leadership experience in the restaurant industry to Bob Evans and this appointment and new structure will enable us to take full advantage of the strengths of a team of talented and experienced executives and directors,” Haben said in a news release. “While we are encouraged by our progress operationally and strategically, I believe, and the board unanimously agreed, that this new structure would best keep us on course as we complete a thorough search process for an outstanding CEO. We are gratified by the continuing hard work and dedication of our management group and team members throughout the organization and look forward to continued progress.”

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