Wendy's has struggled with its identity, and same-store sales, in the years following the death of its founder, Dave Thomas. The chain posted second-quarter same-store sales earlier this month, up 0.1% at company-owned restaurants, and up 1.1% at franchised locations.
"Dave [Karam] understands us, who we are and what we want to be," franchisee Roger Webb said of the newly appointed president. "I'm not saying the new people don't, but it makes an easier transition when you've got someone who knows that, every day and on the first day. I think it's a smart move from new management standpoint."
Kerrii Anderson steps down
Mr. Karam, 50, submitted competing offers to buy Wendy's, eventually losing out to food-business brain trust Nelson Peltz's Triarc Cos. in April. Triarc's CEO, Roland Smith, will stay on as CEO of Wendy's. Triarc also controls Arby's. The two men will be replacing Wendy's current CEO, Kerrii Anderson, who is stepping down.
Mr. Karam is a minority shareholder in the company, and president of Cedar Enterprises, which owns 135 Wendy's. Mr. Karam's family has been involved with Wendy's for decades, and he is beloved by franchisees. Some, including founder Dave Thomas' family, backed his bid to buy the company. His appointment may go a long way in healing wounds inflicted by a protracted battle for the chain.
"A key element in realizing the great potential of the Wendy's brand and generating enhanced value for shareholders is to build a premier team that will drive a performance-based culture grounded in Wendy's heritage of quality and operational excellence," Mr. Smith said in a statement. "With the appointment of three high-caliber and well-respected individuals to key leadership roles, we are taking an important first step toward improving Wendy's performance and achieving our growth objectives."
Mr. 'fantastic' returns
Mr. Calwell, another Wendy's vet, left the top marketing job at Domino's in May. At the time, his departure was described as "abrupt," and some suspected that he may be negotiating a return to Wendy's. He was the burger company's VP-new product marketing, researching and planning when he left in 2001. Mr. Calwell, 46, has also held marketing positions at Frito-Lay and Pillsbury.
Mr. Webb described Mr. Calwell's appointment as "fantastic."
"I think with Ken's background and knowledge of Wendy's, what he did with Wendy's before, he's been out gaining his maturity and knowledge of the business even further, and to come back to Wendy's is just what we need," he said.
Paul Kershisnik served as interim CMO at Wendy's following Ian Rowden's departure in December. Mr. Rowden is now president of Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi's Asia-Pacific. He gave Saatchi primary creative duties during his tenure. But the meat of the $304 million business moved to MDC Partners' Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners shortly after his exit.
Triarc said Mr. Kershisnik will serve in another top marketing role following the merger.
Wendy's chief operator, Dave Near, will be succeeded by Stephen D. Farrar. Mr. Near will go back to running Wendy's franchises.
The appointments will be effective following the merger, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.