CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, announced April 12 that Ned Lyerly, a 30-year veteran with the company, was promoted to chief executive officer, effective immediately. Lyerly succeeds Jason Marker, the former KFC U.S. president who stepped into the position March 2017. At the time, Marker replaced Andy Puzder, the company’s CEO for the previous seven years.
Lyerly most recently served as president of international at CKE and held a variety of senior roles over the years, including development, finance, marketing, and franchise operations. The company said he’s contributed to the development of more than a third of its restaurants, including the expansion of CKE’s international division from 50 units to nearly 1,000.
“I am a passionate believer in the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brands and am honored to serve as chief executive officer,” Lyerly said in a statement. “Our brands each have tremendous heritage built on great products, great people, great experiences and decades of performance. We will leverage these equities to solidify our place as [quick-service restaurant] brands of choice with best-in-class menu offerings centered on premium products and industry-leading guest service.”
There are currently more than 3,800 franchised or company-run Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurants in 44 states and 43 foreign countries and U.S. territories.
George Condos, an industry veteran with more than three decades of experience as well, is joining CKE’s board as chairman. Condos’ career includes stops at Arby’s, Dunkin’ Brands, and Dairy Queen.
“Ned is a focused leader and proven restaurant operator who is deeply respected by many within CKE’s franchise community. His track record of success, passion for our brands, and deep understanding of the business make him the right leader for CKE going forward,” Ezra Field, CKE board member, added in a statement.
When Marker joined CKE, it came during some headline-grabbing weeks. Initially named President Donald Trump’s pick for labor secretary, Puzder withdraw his name from consideration before the confirmation hearing. Puzder became executive vice president and general counsel of CKE in 1997 after Puzder met Carl’s Jr. founder Carl Karcher and became his personal attorney to help him overcome financial difficulties.
That February, The Associated Press reported that Puzder was taking steps to eliminate any conflicts of interest that might threaten his nomination. The article said that Puzder was working to rid himself of assets from the fast food company in hopes of being confirmed. But he pulled out of the process amid growing doubts he didn’t have enough support to become a member of Trump’s cabinet.
In Marker’s time with JFC U.S., he was responsible for the overall strategy and performance of a business with more than $4.2 billion in system sales, 4,200 restaurants, and 450 franchisees. He was also behind a new advertising campaign in 2015. Before KFC, Marker served KFC and Yum! Brands International in various marketing leadership roles: General Manager, KFC U.S. (2014—2015), Chief Marketing Officer, KFC U.S. (2011- 2013), VP Global Marketing, KFC Global (2010—2011) and Chief Marketing Officer, KFC & Pizza Hut South Pacific (2007—2010).
But Marker’s run at CKE didn’t come without controversy, either. This past summer, Bruce Frazer, a marketing official at the company from 2001–2017, filed lawsuit in Nashville federal court accusing Marker of age discrimination.