DineEquity, Inc., the parent company of Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar and IHOP restaurants, announced that chairman and chief executive officer and interim president of the Applebee's business unit Julia Stewart will resign from the company, effective March 1, 2017.
"I am honored to have led this extraordinary global company through significant periods of growth and transformation over the last 16 years. It has been a privilege to lead two iconic brands, both number one in their respective categories," says Stewart. "I am also grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such talented and passionate executives, team members and franchisees. I am confident in the strong roadmap that has been set forth, and will continue to cheer for the company's success."
The board of directors named its current lead director, Richard Dahl, to serve as interim chief executive officer and chairman, effective March 1, 2017, while the board of directors conducts a search for a permanent replacement.
Dahl has served on the board of directors since February 2004 and has more than 35 years of experience in senior management of public and private companies, including service as chief executive officer, chief operating officer and chief financial officer. The board appointed Caroline Nahas as DineEquity's lead director to replace Dahl and Douglas Pasquale to succeed Dahl as chairman of the audit and finance committee. Upon completion of the chief executive officer search, the DineEquity board of directors intends to separate the chairman and chief executive officer roles.
"For more than 16 years, Julia has been a strong and valued leader of DineEquity and the IHOP and Applebee's brands and has made numerous and lasting contributions to the business," says Richard Dahl. "Under Julia's leadership, DineEquity has become one of the largest full service, fully franchised chains in the world. She led the successful turnaround of IHOP early in her tenure, drove the acquisition and re-franchising of Applebee's and transitioned DineEquity to an asset light model. We thank Julia for her service to DineEquity's stockholders and her unwavering commitment to DineEquity and its franchisees."
Concurrent with this leadership transition, the company released preliminary (unaudited) fourth quarter 2016 and fiscal 2016 financial results.
General and administrative expenses were $37 million for the fourth quarter of 2016. General and administrative expenses were $148.9 million for fiscal 2016.
IHOP's domestic system-wide comparable same restaurant sales were negative 2.1 percent for the fourth quarter of 2016. IHOP's domestic system-wide comparable same restaurant sales decreased 0.1 percent for fiscal 2016.
Applebee's domestic system-wide comparable same-restaurant sales declined 7.2 percent for the fourth quarter of 2016. Applebee's domestic system-wide comparable same-restaurant sales decreased 5 percent for fiscal 2016.
DineEquity is in the process of finalizing the foregoing information. The company intends to report definitive fourth quarter 2016 and fiscal 2016 results and its outlook on March 1, 2017, when it will hold its regularly scheduled investor conference call.
"DineEquity will continue to invest in the long term success and growth of both IHOP and Applebee's. I will be working very closely with the Applebee's franchisees to improve performance," says Dahl. "While a turnaround of Applebee's will not happen immediately, the results of a comprehensive diagnostic conducted by a world class management consulting firm has enhanced our understanding of what has driven our recent sales trends. More importantly, we have a go forward plan to improve performance, and have worked with the same firm to validate our initiatives and identify additional creative strategies to expeditiously return Applebee's to growth."
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