Industry News | July 8, 2003

Troubled Cosi Names New CEO

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Kevin Armstrong, former president and COO of Long John Silver's, has been named president and CEO of Cosi. He replaces Cosi founder Jay Wainwright, who will continue to work with the company in an unspecified capacity.

The change is the latest for the fast-casual sandwich chain, which has cumulatively lost more than $120 million in net income since 1997 and is the target of class-action suits in the wake of a post-IPO decision to pursue growth through franchising rather than through company-owned locations as Cosi initially planned. The company went public in late 2002.

In his capacity at Long John Silver's, Armstrong developed brand strategies that reversed two years of sales declines and resulted in three years of same-store sales growth and profitability. Armstrong was pivotal in bringing the company out of bankruptcy, ultimately leading to its sale to YUM Brands. Prior to his tenure at Long John Silver's, Armstrong served as chief marketer for Subway Franchisee Advertising Trust, an independent arm of the $3.2B Subway brand. There he reengineered marketing processes and reversed an 18-month negative sales and profit performance period, increasing store profitability.

Armstrong is the third Cosi CEO this year.