Another Choice Hotels executive is joining the Dine Brands team. The parent company of Applebee’s and IHOP announced late Monday (May 7) the appointment of Thomas Song as chief financial officer, effective May 29.
Song has held the role of senior vice president of corporate development and innovation at Choice Hotels International, Inc., since 2013. Dine Brands’ chief executive officer, Stephen Joyce, was the former CEO of the leading hotel company. He shifted to the same role for Dine Brands in September. Joyce said in a statement that the move continues the company’s behind-the-scenes overhaul.
“Back in February, we outlined our plans for a complete strategic transformation of Dine Brands to return it back to a growth company. Our approach includes strengthening the leadership team and making strategic and meaningful investments. After a comprehensive nationwide search, during which we identified and evaluated a number of highly qualified candidates, Tom emerged as the clear choice to become our next chief financial officer,” Joyce said. “Tom has a unique and varied background that includes over 20 years of experience in finance, M&A, development and franchising, delivering strong business results and creating significant value for shareholders.”
Before the move, Dine Brands had executed 10 major executive changes, including: Greg Bever as SVP and chief people officer; Steve Levigne as VP consumer insights; Joel Yashinsky as SVP, chief marketing officer; Kevin Carroll as SVP, operations; Stephen Bulgarelli as chief culinary officer; Brad Haley as CMO of IHOP; Carrie Stojack as VP consumer insights; and Nevielle Panthaky as chief culinary officer.
At Choice Hotels, Song led the company’s growth initiatives, including corporate investment and acquisitions. Before, Song was the head of corporate development and strategy for the Hanover Insurance Group.
“Having worked with Tom directly, I know what a gifted, results-driven leader he is and also value his skills as an excellent leader of people and team culture,” Joyce added. “I am excited about his joining the team and looking forward to having his ideal combination of skills, knowledge and experience in place as we execute our strategy for long-term growth."
Greggory H. Kalvin, Dine Brands’ interim chief financial officer, will continue in his role as senior vice president, corporate controller once Song steps in.
"I want to sincerely thank Gregg for his contributions and dedication as our interim chief financial officer during this transitional time for the company. He has been a fantastic partner and will continue to be an important and valued part of the company's go-forward strategy in his role as senior vice president, corporate controller," Joyce said.
Dine Brands is coming off one of its better quarters in recent periods, especially for Applebee’s.
Applebee’s domestic systemwide comparable same-store sales increased 3.3 percent versus the prior-year period (a 7.9 percent decline in Q1 2017). This was the chain’s highest quarterly comp sales increase since the first quarter of 2011. It was also the second consecutive quarter of positive sales and traffic for Applebee’s. Over the past six months, Applebee’s has enjoyed its best sustained traffic performance in more than a decade. IHOP achieved 1 percent same-store sales growth, year-over-year.
There are 1,791 (1,679 domestic) IHOPs and 1,912 (1,760 domestic) Applebee’s.