New CEO quote: Make Bob Evans a national brand
Say Hi to the new CEO once he starts in January.
NEW ALBANY, OH: Bob Evans Farms Inc. is tapping as its new chief executive Saed Mohseni, a restaurant-industry veteran who said in an interview he would like to make Bob Evans a national brand.
The appointment, expected to be announced late Tuesday, fills a leadership void at the restaurant-and-packaged-food company created 11 months ago, when the previous CEO resigned after a proxy battle with an activist investor. Mohseni will take the helm on Jan. 4. The 53-year-old has been CEO of two restaurant chains, including Bravo Brio Restaurant Group Inc., a casual-dining chain he led from 2007 until he stepped this month.
Based in New Albany, Ohio, and named for its farming founder, Bob Evans BOBE, -3.58% operates 549 restaurants in 19 states, mostly in the Midwest, mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Its foods division also produces and distributes pork sausage and other refrigerated and frozen foods.
In an interview Monday, Mohseni said he sees many opportunities outside the company’s current regional focus, and hopes to make “Bob Evans an iconic brand on a national level.” He added, however, that he intends to focus on “tweaking and improving rather than drastic change” because the company has a strong culture. And he indicated that performance won’t rely on opening new outlets, saying “the growth has to come from our current restaurants.”
Mohseni’s predecessor, Steve Davis, resigned under pressure last December, after nominees of Sandell Asset Management Corp. won a third of Bob Evans’s 12 director slots in August. Sandell owns nearly 10% of Bob Evans’s shares outstanding, making it one of the three biggest shareholders.
Mohseni declined to say whether he would consider separating Bob Evans’s food and restaurant businesses—a move sought by Sandell—or if he might expand its previously announced plans to sell and lease back some restaurant properties.