Chipotle Mexican Grill, to put it bluntly, “has been invisible.”

That’s the frank assessment CEO Brian Niccol issued more than once during his first quarterly call at the chain, which he joined in early March after running Taco Bell.


Niccol, who quickly hired his former Taco Bell colleague Chris Brandt as chief marketing officer, is clearly eager to help Chipotle recover. The CEO suggested there are short-term and long-term plans being cooked up to help bring people back to the “Food with Integrity” chain, which has yet to fully bounce back after food safety issues arose in 2015.

“Chipotle is such a strong brand with incredible equity,” Niccol said in his opening remarks. Still, he says, Chipotle is “a story of recovery” and it hasn’t done a great job of connecting with customers.

Early plans include increasing marketing and promotional spending for the rest of this year after it fell in the first quarter. Chipotle is also working on growing in areas such as delivery, mobile ordering and catering (catering’s currently only about 1 percent of sales) to boost loyalty to the chain that lost its way after being a hallmark of the success of the fast-casual industry.

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