Industry News | January 10, 2018 | By Danny Klein | QSR Exclusive Brief

Domino's Departing CEO: I'm Not Leaving for Chipotle

J. Patrick Doyle stands with Domino's Pizza Theater design. He has been instrumental in the pizza chain's turnaround.
Domino's CEO J. Patrick Doyle is leaving the pizza chain in June. Domino's
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J. Patrick Doyle’s decision to depart Domino’s in June spun the CEO rumor wheel Wednesday. Namely, would the celebrated executive land at Chipotle and begin another turnaround project? Doyle quickly dismissed that notion during the company’s investor day meeting.

According to Reuters, Doyle said he plans to take six months off before charting his next move, and doesn’t expect to depart the business.

“Every other theory about what I’m going to be doing is incorrect,” he said.

Doyle also told The Wall Street Journal: “No, that’s not happening,” when asked about the possible move, adding that Chipotle hasn’t reached out to him.

Read more about Doyle’s departure here

Doyle, 54, engineered an impressive comeback at Domino’s during his eight-year term, which began in 2010 following David A. Brandon’s departure as CEO. The company’s stock was trading in the mid-teens when he took over. After dropping a touch over 3 percent Wednesday, it sat at $200.09 to close. It’s up 25 percent in just the past 52 weeks. Same-store sales growth of 8.4 percent in the third quarter, year-over-year in the U.S., marked 26 consecutive quarters of positive sales momentum in Domino’s domestic business.

Key to this turnaround has been technology, as well as revamping Domino’s culinary image with customers, who didn’t exactly laud its quality back in the day. This led to a campaign referred to as “Our Pizza Sucks.” At year-end 2016, more than 60 percent of orders placed in the U.S. were made via digital channels at Domino’s, and a commitment to digital innovation helped the pizza chain reach an estimated $5.6 billion in global digital sales in 2016, the company said.

In other words, Richard Allison, 50, the current president of Domino’s International, is inheriting a brand in great shape.

That wouldn’t exactly be the case for Doyle if he took on Chipotle’s CEO vacancy. The former Wall Street darling has endured a rough run following 2015’s disastrous E. coli outbreaks that ended up affecting 14 states, triggering a yearlong sales downturn, and erasing around half of Chipotle’s market cap.

In 2017, the company faced a norovirus incident at a Sterling, Virginia, location, a data breach, queso concerns, and other issues that sent shares on a rollercoaster throughout the calendar year.  Chipotle’s third-quarter earnings reflected the mounting problems, as well as rising avocado prices. Chipotle’s adjusted earnings per share came in at $1.33, significantly short of Wall Street’s expected $1.66. Same-store sales climbed just 1 percent. The chain’s stock dropped 14 percent after the announcement and another 14.5 percent the following day, giving it a nearly 50-point tumble beneath $300—the first time since March 2013 its shares were valued so low. Shares were trading at $321.80 Wednesday. To put that in perspective, shares traded at $721.85 on January 9, 2015.

In November, founder Steve Ells announced he was stepping down from the CEO role to become Chipotle’s executive chairman. He was also joining the brand’s search committee for a new CEO, which includes board directors Robin Hickenlooper and Ali Namvar.

That task for now, it appears, won’t include the Domino’s trailblazer.