Quiznos’ CMO is now CEO

Quiznos RattiSteve’s breakdown: Don’t ya love it when the marketing chief tasks over? N0w she can do whatever she wants. (She kinda did already with the Burning Man spoof trailer spot. Click the image to see that video. Full disclosure: I’ve done Burning Man 10 times. Yikes!)

Anyway, the gloves are off now and she’s in charge so give Susan a ring of “congratulations”.

One other thing. Her last company was Red Robinas as CMO and she didn’t really knock it out of the park. Just sayin’.

DENVER, CO: Quiznos has turned to a company veteran and marketing specialist to become the new president and CEO for the struggling chain.

Susan Lintonsmith — who most recently served as global chief marketing officer as the Denver sub-shop company has expanded heavily in Asia and South America — will become the permanent replacement for former CEO Doug Pendergast, who stepped down in June after 16 months on the job to spend more time with his family, the company announced Thursday.

Former chief financial officer Katie Scherping, who served as interim CEO after Pendergast’s departure, is leaving the company to pursue an opportunity outside of the restaurant industry, Quiznos officials said.

Lintonsmith steps in at a turbulent, but very significant, time for the 35-year-old quick-service chain, which emerged from bankruptcy in July 2014 but continues to shed locations as it tweaks its franchisee-heavy business model.

The company has begun to right its long-teetering ship, having increased customer-satisfaction scores and retooled a distribution system that had led to lawsuits from franchisees. And it hopes to add stores again in the United States as it banks on overseas success with major franchisee deals in China and other countries.

Lintonsmith, who joined Quiznos in 2012 as chief marketing officer after serving in a similar position with Greenwood Village-headquartered Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. (Nasdaq: RRGB), has led several of the chain’s key initiatives in recent years. She has been instrumental in opening the China market, where Quiznos plans to open 1,500 stores, and was a leader in the introduction of Quiznos Grill, an upgraded fast-casual concept that company officials hope will be able to attract new customers to the brand.

“Susan has a real passion for the restaurant industry and has been a vital contributor to Quiznos’ successful brand evolution over the last four years,” said Doug Benham, the company’s board chairman. “During her tenure, Susan has consistently translated menu and marketing innovation into operational value.”

At a time when Denver-based restaurant chains like Smashburger and Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) continue to grow, the number of Quiznos locations has fallen from about 5,000 in 2007 to about 1,000 currently. Former supply-chain metrics left franchisees unable to make a profit, many said, and Quiznos lost a lot of stores that had been located in office buildings during and shortly after the Great Recession.

Lintonsmith said in a news release that she plans to continue to focus on menu improvements and simplification to achieve revenue growth at individual stores and throughout the chain.

“I am honored and excited for the opportunity to lead the Quiznosteam of dedicated and talented professionals,” she said. “I look forward to working alongside the management team, team members and franchisees to add value to the entire Quiznos system by serving our guests and creating sustainable growth.”

Quiznos officials also named Christina Maxwell as chief financial officer on Thursday to succeed Scherping. Maxwell has been with the chain since 2012 as senior vice president of finance and accounting.

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