Buffalo Wild Wings embattled CEO to retire

by Erica Shaffer
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 Buffalo Wild Wings investor presentation May 2017
Shareholders put three Marcato nominees on the board of directors.
 
MINNEAPOLIS – Sally Smith, CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings, announced she will retire before the end of 2017. The announcement follows a shareholders’ vote that elevated the nominees of activist investor Marcato Capital Management LLP to the company’s board of directors.

The embattled executive will continue to serve as president and CEO until the end of the search for her successor. Smith also withdrew her name for election to the board of directors.

“I am proud of Buffalo Wild Wings’ tremendous success. We have made great strides in executing our strategic plan and continuing to innovate to stay ahead of the competition,” Smith said in a statement. “I will focus on leading Buffalo Wild Wings and driving value-creating change until we are ready to make a smooth transition. I am confident that the company, including its excellent management and Board, are solidly positioned for its next phase of growth and development. I would like to thank the entire team at the home office, in the field and in the restaurants, as well as all of our franchisees, for their hard work and commitment over our more than 20-year history together and look forward to watching the company’s next chapter of growth.”

The result marks a win for Marcato, which manages funds that beneficially own approximately 9.9 percent of the outstanding common shares of Buffalo Wild Wings and had sought Smith’s resignation. Additionally, shareholders elected Scott Bergren, Sam Rovit and Marcato founder Mick McGuire to the board.

“We are very pleased that our fellow BWLD shareholders recognize that additional change on the Board is warranted to return Buffalo Wild Wings to a path of growth and long-term value creation,” McGuire said in a statement. “We will bring the fresh perspectives, restaurant industry expertise and oversight the BWLD Board needs to spearhead improvements at the company. Scott, Sam and I are eager to roll up our sleeves, and work closely with the incumbent directors to drive a strategy to make Buffalo Wild Wings a winning company again.”

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