- Shannon Hennessy, president of The Habit Burger Grill, has been promoted to CEO of the chain effective June 6, parent company Yum Brands announced Tuesday. Hennessy will report to Yum CEO David Gibbs.
- Hennessy has been president since July 2022 and is succeeding Russ Bendel, who is retiring.
- As CEO, Hennessy will be tasked with continuing to scale the fast casual brand. In 2022, Habit Burger grew its franchised restaurants 3% year-over-year to represent 18% of its roughly 350 units.
Habit Burger has expanded quickly since its acquisition by Yum Brands in 2020, and the chain aims to become a household name despite fierce competition from other burger chains. Hennessy seems well-suited to the task, as she led development, franchising and expansion initiatives as president to accelerate the chain’s growth, according to the press release.
In 2022, Habit Burger opened 31 gross new units to reach 349 total restaurants, according to Yum’s 10-K. According to the company’s press release, Habit Burger ended last year with $2 million in average unit volumes and a digital mix of 35%. Hennessy has been instrumental in driving digital sales growth for the chain since becoming president, Gibbs said in a statement.
“With Shannon’s background as KFC Global Division CFO and her nearly 20 years with McKinsey & Company, she has a unique skillset that will be vital as we continue to scale The Habit, offering our franchisees an investment opportunity in an award-winning, fast-casual concept in the better-burger category with a long runway for growth,” Gibbs said.
The chain is targeting a U.S. count of 2,000, and is refranchising some California locations to build up funds to launch corporate locations in East Coast markets where it already has a presence, QSR Magazine reports. By contrast, rival Five Guys had 1,390 U.S. restaurants in 2021, and McDonald’s had 13,438 domestic units the same year.
In past years, Habit Burger has touted drive-thrus as a path to scale, though Yum leadership didn’t mention any expansion stats for this channel on its most recent earnings call. Pre-pandemic, Habit Burger operated 35 drive-thru units.
This promotion marks the second C-suite change at Habit Burger this month. In early March, the chain created a global CMO position for Jack Hinchcliffe, who previously served as CMO for sister brand KFC in its U.K. and Ireland division. Hinchcliffe replaced Iwona Alter, who was promoted to chief operating officer at Habit Burger in December 2022.