Wingstop announced Monday that CEO Charlie Morrison has resigned from his position at the company.
The industry veteran will become the new chief executive of Salad and Go, a roughly 50-unit drive-thru chain based in Arizona and Texas where he serves on the brand's board of directors. At Wingstop, he has been replaced by former COO Michael Skipworth. Lynn Crump-Caine, Wingstop's lead independent board member, was appointed to succeed Morrison as chair. Morrison will remain with the company until April 8 to assist with transitional matters.
"It is with mixed emotions that I announce my resignation from Wingstop," Morrison said in a statement. "It's been an incredible 10 years and I will be forever proud of the growth and outstanding achievements of the past decade. Michael has worked closely with me as a trusted partner and colleague and I cannot think of a better person to serve as Wingstop's President and CEO. I have a profound amount of respect and confidence in Michael as he leads the brand in its next phase of monumental growth."
Morrison became Wingstop's CEO in June 2012. Prior to that, he was president and CEO of Pizza Inn for five and a half years and president of Steak and Ale for two years.
Skipworth, who played a key role in Wingstop's IPO nearly seven years ago, joined Wingstop in December 2014 and has served in a variety of leadership roles, including executive vice president and CFO and most recently as president and COO. Since that IPO, shareholders have experienced a nearly 900 percent return, including about $500 million in cash via dividends, domestic same-store sales growth has averaged 8.7 percent and annual new unit development has averaged 13.5 percent.
"I'm humbled and excited for this next chapter with Wingstop," Skipworth said in a statement. "Charlie and I have worked together over the past eight years to grow and scale the brand globally, and we have a great deal of momentum as we look to the future. I feel confident we have the right talent and team with a clear strategy to continue delivering our unparalleled and industry-leading results. On a personal note, I will greatly miss Charlie's partnership but am looking forward to seeing the amazing things he accomplishes in his new role."
In 2021, Wingstop's U.S. same-store sales increased 8 percent year-over-year and 29.4 percent on a two-year basis, and the chain’s global footprint grew 12.5 percent, with an all-time-high 193 net openings. Adjusted EBITDA lifted 23 percent to $88.4 million and net income rose to $42.7 million, compared to $23.3 million in 2020. The brand closed 2021 with comps rising 7.5 percent in Q4 and 25.7 percent on a two-year stack. U.S. AUV hiked to $1.6 million, and digital continued to mix above 60 percent.
The fast casual ended the year with 1,731 stores across the world, including 1,498 domestically and 197 internationally. The chain also finished with more than 1,100 commitments systemwide. The brand now believes it has room for 4,000 stores domestically, up from its original 3,000-store projection.