(Reuters) – Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (CMG.N) on Tuesday said it had hired Brian Niccol from Yum Brands’ (YUM.N) Taco Bell unit as chief executive officer to turn around the formerly red-hot burrito chain that has been hurt by a series of food safety lapses.
Shares of Chipotle were up 11 percent at $279 in extended trading. They had hit a high of $742 in 2015, before sales-crushing E.coli, Salmonella and Norovirus outbreaks sickened hundreds of U.S. customers.
Niccol, who has headed Taco Bell since 2015, replaces Chipotle founder Steve Ells.
Ells said in November he would step aside after failing for two years to rescue the burrito chain’s sales and reputation.
He became sole CEO after co-CEO Monty Moran departed in December 2016, under pressure from hedge fund manager William Ackman, whose Pershing Square Capital Management LP is Chipotle’s largest investor with a 10 percent stake.
Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva