Taco Bell's CEO is taking over Chipotle -- and people are freaking out over the 'staggering' pick that seems to violate the burrito chain's values

Hollis Johnson
  • Chipotle announced on Tuesday that it had tapped Taco Bell’s CEO Brian Niccol to lead the struggling burrito chain.
  • While Chipotle has long emphasised its commitment to “food with integrity,” Taco Bell is better known for its absurd rotation of menu items.
  • The “staggering” pick raised some eyebrows – but analysts are supporting the choice.

Chipotle’s founder Steve Ells has maintained that Chipotle’s dedication to fresh, all-natural ingredients will not change when he steps down as CEO.

So, when Chipotle announced on Tuesday that it had tapped Taco Bell’s CEO to lead the chain’s turnaround, some people were confused.

Chipotle has long touted its dedication to all-natural “real, whole ingredients.” While customers’ perception of the chain still hasn’t fully recovered since it’s E. coli outbreak, Chipotle and Ells have maintained a commitment to fresh, high-quality ingredients as key to the company’s future.

Taco Bell, meanwhile, is better known for its wild and inexpensive new menu items than it is a strict dedication to fresh food.

As a result, the announcement that Taco Bell’s CEO Brian Niccol would be taking over at Chipotle caused some people to raise their eyebrows.



Jim Cramer went on a rant about the announcement on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street Wednesday morning, comparing the minimal natural ingredients in a Chipotle’s burrito to the long list of items in Taco Bell’s beef burrito.

“This is a staggering pick,” Cramer said of Chipotle tapping Niccol. “It’s everything [Chipotle doesn’t] care for. It’s like naming a guy from the Army to run the Air Force.”

Meanwhile, most analysts are applauding Chipotle for the pick. Niccol was able to usher in a period of impressive growth at Taco Bell after joining the brand in 2011.

“Mr. Niccol’s appointment will be viewed as a near-term catalyst for the stock given his experience repositioning the Taco Bell brand and successful execution across innovation, marketing, and value initiatives,” UBS analyst Dennis Geiger wrote in a note to investors on Wednesday.

“However,” Geiger continued, “we continue to believe long-term headwinds remain, with a still challenged brand image and competitive pressures that will likely take time to address.”

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