Subway’s evolving leadership team has added Mike Kappitt, the former president of Carrabba’s Italian Grill, as chief operating and insights officer, it announced Tuesday.
The newly created role will lead Subway’s digital efforts, including third-party delivery and catering, as well as oversee analytics and insights functions.
“Mike brings an extraordinary track record for growing global brands through insights-driven marketing,” said Subway CEO John Chidsey, who joined the company in November. “His expertise will be invaluable for the continued growth of the Subway brand.”
Kappitt left Carrabba’s in February as part of parent company Bloomin’ Brands’ (Bonefish Grill, Outback, and Fleming’s) leadership restructure. Kappitt and Jeff Carcara, the EVP of Bonefish Grill, stepped aside February 13. In lieu of their exit, Gregg Scarlett, the president of Outback since July 2016, was named EVP, chief operating officer, casual dining restaurants to oversee domestic operations at Outback, Carrabba’s, and Bonefish. Brett Patterson also stepped into the Outback president job left behind by Scarlett’s move, and former CEO Liz Smith stepped down as executive chairman.
Subway has made its own series of C-suite changes in recent months. In January, the chain let go Len Van Popering, its chief brand and innovation officer. That move was explained as “streamlining and simplifying the business by pushing talent and expertise closer to regions in which it does business.” Additionally, former chief legal officer Bethany Appleby was replaced by Ilene Kolbert.
Before that, three other executives exited. Don Fertman, Subway’s long-time chief development officer, unveiled his retirement plan in August 2019. He’s staying on as a development consultant through 2020. CFO Dave Worroll also announced his retirement and is remaining with Subway through mid-2020 to help the company transition to new CFO Ben Wells. Ian Martin, the brand’s SVP of international, left at the end of 2019 as part of division-reorganization.
CEO John Chidsey, the former chairman and CEO of Burger King Holdings, was hired in mid-November.
Chidsey’s appointment ended a lengthy search for Subway’s top role that began when Suzanne Greco retired in June 2019. Trevor Haynes, who was serving as interim CEO, continued on as president of North America operations. Haynes joined Subway in 2016 and was its chief business development officer when Greco retired.
Chidsey held the CFO title at Burger King before his promotion in April 2006 when Greg Brenneman returned to private-equity firm, TurnWorks Inc. When Burger King was dealt to 3G Capital in 2010, Chidsey began a transition to co-chairman of the board as Bernardo Hees took over. He left in April 2011.
Kappitt has clocked more than two decades in restaurant and franchising, including stints at Outback, Burger King North America, and Alamo and National Car Rental.
“I am delighted to join the Subway team and excited to partner with franchisees and other key stakeholders to evolve this great brand for generations to come,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to being part of it.”
Kappitt directed domestic operations and development of Carrabba’s. Previously, he served as global CMO for Bloomin’ Brands full portfolio. His time at Burger King covered several marketing and business intelligence positions, the company said.
The appointment continues a transitional period for the world’s largest restaurant chain. In February, Subway revealed that it cut roughly 300 jobs from its corporate office in Milford, Connecticut. It released a statement saying that streamlining and simplifying the business with a smaller workforce would help it react quickly to the changing needs of the business.
Subway has retracted its unit count in recent years as it looks to updated models and accelerate relocations. The chain has just over 23,650 units in the U.S., which is down from 2015, when it ended the year with 27,103—more than Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut combined. The restaurant chain had 24,798 locations at the end of 2018.
The company’s broad “Fresh Forward,” refresh program has targeted 10,500 domestic stores by the end of 2020.