Chipotle names Taco Bell executive as next CEO

NEW YORK—Chipotle, hoping to rebuild its business after a series of food safety scares, has named an executive from fast-food chain Taco Bell as its next CEO.

Brian Niccol, chief executive at Yum Brands Inc.’s Taco Bell chain for three years, will start at Chipotle next month. He’ll be tasked with helping turn around the burrito chain, which has long positioned itself as a step up from fast food.

Chipotle has been trying to win back customers to its restaurants since 2015, when its sales plunged after an E. coli outbreak. Earlier this month, the chain said a key sales figure rose in the fourth quarter, but mostly because it raised menu prices and paid less for avocados. Fewer customers came to its restaurants during the quarter, the company said.

The chain has been searching for a new CEO since November, when founder Steve Ells announced he would step down from the role and become executive chairman when a replacement was found. The company said it was looking for someone with turnaround expertise who can help build customer trust and improve sales.

Ells founded Chipotle as a single restaurant in Denver in 1993. He had previously shared the top job as a co-CEO.

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