Bojangles’ Restaurants Inc. announced the company’s board of directors has appointed Clifton Rutledge as chief executive officer effective January 24. Rutledge joins Bojangles’ from Texas-based hamburger chain Whataburger, succeeding current CEO Randy Kibler, who announced his plans to retire from this role in September, but will remain active as chairman of the company’s board of directors. Additionally, Bojangles’ promoted its senior vice president of company operations, Kenny Avery, to chief operations officer.
Now at the helm of Bojangles’ leadership team, Rutledge will be responsible for leading the company’s ongoing expansion in its core markets concentrated in the Southeast and building upon the brand’s strong same-store sales following a run of expansion and growth.
Kibler expressed confidence in Rutledge’s ability to oversee the growing company while staying true to the vision and values that have been central to Bojangles’ success. “Clifton’s proven leadership and broad experience in the quick service category make him the ideal leader to guide Bojangles’ continued growth,” Kibler says. “We have the utmost confidence in the wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm he brings to our brand.”
A 30-year veteran of the restaurant industry, Rutledge most recently served as chief operations officer of the nation’s eighth largest quick-service burger concept. Rutledge continually expanded his duties since taking the company’s leading operations role in 2006 and oversaw more than 750 company-owned and franchised locations as he guided the brand through steady growth. Rutledge will relocate to Charlotte, North Carolina, where Bojangles’ Support Center is located, with his wife, Christy, and daughters, Caitlyn, Chandler, and Carley.
“I am proud to join the Bojangles’ team on the heels of many recent successes which have contributed to this company’s tremendous growth potential. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Bojangles’ leadership and it is an honor to be part of the team,” Rutledge says. “We will remain committed to the brand’s vision of growth and look forward to taking Bojangles’ to the next level.”
Rutledge comes to Bojangles’ prepared to be the driving force of its strategic direction as the chicken and biscuits brand, now boasting more than 575 company-owned and franchised locations, prepares to aggressively expand within its existing footprint. Rutledge will also draw upon his experience working in both company and franchise restaurant operations, including roles with TCBY and KFC, and looks forward to building relationships with current franchisees while also bringing new partners to Bojangles’ already strong franchise network.
“We are confident that by bringing on a new CEO with a track-record of positive results as well as transitioning two of the company’s key executives into new leading roles, Bojangles’ has strengthened its leadership team while also ensuring continuity,” says Andrew Crawford, a principal at Advent International, the global private equity firm that bought a controlling interest in Bojangles’ in 2011. “It is an exciting time for Bojangles’ with a promising team in place to propel the company into the future.”