- Focus Brands has appointed three new executives, effective immediately, according to a press release published Thursday. Two of the new executives will help lead the company’s construction and development, while the third will lead Auntie Anne’s marketing and operations strategy.
- Julie Younglove-Webb is now chief brand officer at Auntie Anne’s; Jim Cannon joined Focus as SVP of design and construction; and Chris Newman is now SVP of real estate at Focus.
- These hires could bolster development of Focus chains. The company has emphasized dual-branded restaurants as key to its future growth, and has experimented with smaller units and nontraditional formats across several of its brands.
These new executive appointments come as Focus, which also owns Carvel, Cinnabon, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Jamba and McAlister’s Deli and Schlotzsky’s, seeks to attract franchisees through nontraditional growth opportunities. The addition of shared real estate expertise from Cannon and Newman could be a boon here, especially as rising construction costs and frequent delays hamper development and push some Focus subsidiaries toward smaller units.
Schlotzsky’s, for example, has been working to develop smaller footprint, double-drive thru units that economize on construction and real estate, save on furniture and may reduce traffic congestion by improving speed of service and throughput.
Cannon and Newman will help develop and support Focus’ long-term growth strategy. Cannon brings many years of design and construction experience at QSRs, working for Inspire Brands, Arby's, Popeyes and Jack in the Box, according to the press release. At Focus he will be responsible for “developing and managing our brands' prototypes, ensuring locations are successfully designed, built and opened on time and within budget,” the company said.
Newman also brings a wealth of experience to his role as SVP of real estate. Newman joins Focus following a stint in multifamily construction, which followed a 12-year tenure as director fo real estate for Jimmy John’s. He will be responsible for overseeing the real estate strategy for all of Focus’ seven brands.
Younglove-Webb joins Auntie Anne’s from Domino’s Pizza, where she was an SVP for the chain’s Team USA, responsible for overseeing operations at 400 corporate stores across 8 states, according to her LinkedIn profile. As CBO at Auntie Anne’s, Younglove-Webb will oversee the pretzel chain’s overall brand strategy, including both marketing an operations. Auntie Anne’s, in recent quarters, has shifted its focus toward developing a stronger drive-thru presence in growing markets. The brand aims to open a total of 15 drive-thrus by this spring.
Focus has added a considerable number of executives over the last year, including a new SVP of operations for restaurant brands in November. In August, the company promoted Shelley Harris to restaurant category president and hired William Armstrong as Schlotzsky’s chief brand officer. In July, the chain hired an SVP in charge of franchise sales.