Struggling Mexican food chain Chipotle is trying desperately to get back on top after several food-borne illness outbreaks in recent years sent many longtime customers running away. Now that new CEO Brian Niccol is in charge, the company is about to go through a major overhaul.
When he took over in February, Niccol found a company with a tremendous need for improvement.
"I found skills gaps in many areas and insufficient data for decision making that have held us back from reaching our potential," Niccol told investors on Wednesday, as cited by CNBC. "There was no validated menu innovation pipeline, a general lack of customer understanding, and no real process for scaling and commercializing innovation."
Over the next 12 months, the new chief will be focused on one thing – winning back customers. Fortunately for Chipotle, Niccol may be the one person who can do just that. He already has a successful track record rebuilding iconic companies like Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.
While working with Taco Bell, Niccol was the first to implement a mobile order and payment system in nearly 7,000 locations nationwide. He also introduced self-serve kiosks and delivery services.
Even though Chipotle customers can order ahead for later pickup, most do not know the option is available. Niccol plans to change that by investing heavily into promoting the restaurant's online and mobile ordering systems.
The company will also be testing a food delivery option at about 1,500 locations, with a plan to expand to 2,000 if it works. Delivery service DoorDash is already working with Chipotle in some areas. Some menu changes are in the works for locations in New York City.Brand recognition is also a big deal for Niccol. Soon, Chipotle will be seen on television screens when new advertisements will be shown during some popular TV shows. The company also plans sponsorship opportunities with the National Basketball Association and the makers of hit video game Fortnite.
Per Fox 31 News, Niccol had another major announcement for Chipotle investors. The company plans to close 55 to 65 locations, and the closures will happen as soon as next month. In a previous announcement, Chipotle will move its headquarters from offices in Denver, Colorado, to Newport Beach, California, where Niccol is located.
Currently, Chipotle has around 2,400 restaurants worldwide, but the majority are located in the U.S. In 2011, the company opened a chain of Asian-style restaurants named ShopHouse. The endeavor proved unsuccessful, and the locations ultimately closed.