Commentary

Hoffmann Takes Over From Travis As Dunkin' Brands CEO

Fittingly, the Wordsmith “Word of the Day” is “top banana” because Dunkin’ Brands Group has a new one. David Hoffmann, who was recruited from McDonald’s in October 2016 with the expectation that he would eventually succeed Nigel Travis as CEO, did so yesterday. He will oversee about 12,500 Dunkin' Donuts restaurants and 7,900 Baskin-Robbins restaurants worldwide.

A lot of changes have been happening at Dunkin’ Donuts over the last year, and Hoffmann has been at the center of it all,” writes Nik DeCosta-Klipa for the Boston Globe

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But apparently there’s a lot of game left.

“I’d say we’re in the top of the first inning still,” the new CEO, who is 50, said during a conference call.

“According to the company, Hoffmann has overseen the implementation of a three-year growth strategy plan that, in a shift away from its namesake product, primarily includes positioning Dunkin’ Donuts as a beverage-led brand. The reinvention has included expanding its coffee and espresso offerings, while paring down its food and pastry menu — and even potentially its name,” DeCosta-Klipa continues.

Travis, 68, who had been in the position since 2009 — adding nearly 6,000 restaurants worldwide and leading the company through its IPO in 2011 — will become executive chairman of the board of directors of the Canton, Mass.-based company. He will focus on developing international businesses, according to the release announcing the appointments, which were “effective immediately.”

“From his development and implementation of the Dunkin' Donuts U.S. Blueprint for Growth, to the relationships he has forged with our franchisees and the talent management skills he has exhibited, Dave has demonstrated he is exactly the person to lead the next phase of our global growth,” Travis said.

As he takes over, Hoffmann “has one goal — continue modernizing the 68-year-old coffee and doughnut company to keep its iconic brand relevant amid stiff competition from other national chains and local coffee shops. The trick, he said, is delivering high-quality coffee fast to customers who don't want to pay more for their cup of Joe,” Kate Rogers writes for CNBC.

“Relevance is at the heart of what we are trying to do. Brands that stay narrow in their lane do their best. On the Dunkin’ side, that is great coffee, fast. It’s our sweet spot,” Hoffmann tells Rogers.

“Hoffmann says his focus will continue to be on the Dunkin’ Blueprint for Growth, a strategy designed to make the company the ‘leading beverage-led, on-the-go brand.’ The plan so far has seen a slimmer menu, new value promotions and menu items, as well as a next-generation concept store in that debuted in Quincy, Mass., earlier this year,” Rogers adds.

“During his time at Dunkin’, it turned to automation to perform less-desirable tasks in an effort to improve employee retention in a tight labor market,” report Austen Hufford and Julie Jargon for the Wall Street Journal.

“Hoffmann also said he pushed the chain to boost its afternoon business by testing a new afternoon snack menu with $2 items designed to pair with coffee. More recently, he helped launch Dunkin’s first national value menu in many years and promoted menu innovation with new products like donut fries,” they add.

Before coming to Dunkin’, Hoffmann was most recently in charge of McDonald’s high-growth markets, including China, South Korea, Russia and several European countries. He started as a line cook there while in high school.

Hoffmann tells Bloomberg’s Leslie Patton that “one solution to the staffing crunch” at its U.S. restaurants with unemployment at its lowest rate in many years is for the U.S. to provide more student visas for foreigners participating in work-study programs.

“There may be opportunities for us to be able to open up the J-1 visas, which are critical in many of our areas,” Hoffmann said. “The tight labor market and staffing has been an issue in the industry for a while.”

Bloomberg’s Melanie Warner reports Hoffmann will receive an annual base salary of $900,000 and will be eligible to receive an annual target cash incentive opportunity equal to 125% of his annual base salary. He also received an award of restricted stock units valued at about $1.5 million.

“We made sure this was a no-drama transition,” Hoffmann tells The Street’s Brian Sozzi. “I am sort of a product of minimum wage. I grew up in the restaurants. That has been my whole life. It was burgers and fries at 16 and it's donuts at 50.”

And all the caviar he might desire in retirement.

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