Atlanta-based Wendy's/Arby's Group has a new leader for its Arby's division as the roast beef sandwich seller tries to launch more effective advertising and become known as an affordable option.
Industry veteran Hala Moddelmog, 54, has been named president of Arby's, charged with turning around the brand and focusing on bringing more customers to its restaurants. She returns to the restaurant chain where she started her business career.
Arby's has been without a permanent leader since late January, when president and CEO Tom Garrett left the company. The division, whose menu has typically skewed towards higher prices than those of other fast food chains, has struggled to adapt to an economic environment in which diners are looking for cheap deals. Sales and profit margins have fallen in recent quarters amid discounting by competitors.
Roland Smith, CEO of Wendy's/Arby's, said on a conference call with analysts earlier this year that the company has "a very solid plan" to turn around Arby's this year. But he acknowledged that rolling out a new dollar menu, a key component of the plan, is "going to take a little bit of time."
Moddelmog, an Atlanta resident, started her business career in 1981 as a market research manager for the Arby's franchise marketing association. She returned to the association in the early 1990s as a vice president.
Starting in 1995, Moddelmog worked as president of Church's Chicken, now the world's fourth-largest chicken chain. As president of Church's, she was the first woman to lead a major international restaurant company, according to Wendy's/Arby's.
In recent years Moddelmog was president and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and ran a consulting firm for the foodservice, healthcare, franchising, retail and nonprofit industries.
Moddelmog's experience with the Arby's brand and its franchise system "will enable her to quickly immerse herself in brand-building strategies to grow store sales and profitability," Smith said Wednesday in a statement.
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