|Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle|
"Brian is a proven world-class executive, who will bring fresh energy and leadership to drive excellence across every aspect of our business," Ells said. "His expertise in digital technologies, restaurant operations and branding make him a perfect fit for Chipotle as we seek to enhance our customer experience, drive sales growth and make our brand more relevant."
Ells announced plans to step down as CEO last November, following a challenging couple of years for Chipotle. The Denver-based company has struggled to recover from a foodborne illness outbreak in 2015 that included 55 cases of E. coli O26 across 11 states followed by a norovirus outbreak at a Boston-based restaurant that reportedly sickened 80 individuals.
Turnaround efforts have been met with tepid response. Introductions of chorizo and queso, operational improvements and a new loyalty program, among other initiatives, have not been enough to restore customer traffic at the chain to pre-food safety crisis levels.
Niccol began his career at Procter & Gamble, serving in various brand management positions over the course of a decade. He joined Yum! Brands in 2005, where he held leadership roles at Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, advancing to the role of Taco Bell president in 2013, then Taco Bell CEO in 2015. During his tenure, the Mexican fast-food chain launched several product initiatives, including breakfast, and developed a digital platform with mobile ordering and payment across the 7,000 restaurants.
Felss Masino joined Taco Bell in January from Mattel, with previous experience at Starbucks and Sprinkles Cupcakes. As president, she is responsible for ensuring Taco Bell continues to deliver same-store sales growth by driving innovation, new store development and digital and technology initiatives.
Williams previously served as chief financial officer of Taco Bell, leading six years of strong sales, profit and brand growth. Prior to joining Taco Bell, she was principal in the consumer and retail practices in US and Asian markets at The Boston Consulting Group.