Jimmy John’s announced two C-Suite changes this week, including the hire of Taco Bell vet Stephen Piacentini as chief development officer. The more than 2,700-unit sandwich chain also tapped John Shea, who headed global markets at Gatorade, to lead its marketing department as CMO.
Piacentini spent 13 years with YUM! Brands’ Taco Bell. Most recently, he served as senior director of restaurant development and facilities, developing and overseeing the chain’s growth from 6,000–8,000 locations and directing the Taco Bell Cantina project—Taco Bell’s hip, new design that serves alcohol and expects to bring 300–350 additional stores to urban markets by 2022. He was also tasked with maximizing traditional trade areas and creating financial incentives for franchise owners.
“It’s no surprise that Jimmy John’s is seeing such explosive growth,” Piacentini said, as reported by the Chicago Business Journal. “From young people wanting to start their first businesses by opening a Jimmy John’s, to veterans with more than 20 stores, people know that it’s a reliable brand that offers high-quality, fresh ingredients and that we care deeply about the success of each and every one of our franchises."
Shea’s previous job at Gatorade—a unit of PepsiCo—involved growing the beverage brand on a global scale. Before, he led the company’s sports marketing and was responsible for Gatorade’s corporate relationships with the NFL, NBA, MLB, college teams, and other sports organizations. Shea also oversaw Gatorade’s deals with high-profile athletes like Peyton Manning, Usain Bolt, Michael Jordan, and others. Additionally, Shea’s career included the launch of the G Series of Gatorade products.
“I’m motivated by building and growing brands, and I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the best in the world,” he said. “Today’s consumers want their food fresh and fast, and Jimmy John’s serves the freshest product with the highest-quality ingredients, and we do it freaky fast. We have a tremendous runway for growth."
Jimmy John’s grew its unit count by 242 restaurants from 2015 to 2016—the most of any chain in the QSR 50 sandwich category. The company had average-unit volumes of $841,700 and systemwide sales (in millions) of $2,146.60. At the time, 2,584 of the 2,647 locations were franchised.