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Tuesday, Jul 16, 2024

The Habit Taps Parent Company for Leadership Team 

Irvine’s Habit Burger Grill has boosted its executive lineup with a new global chief marketing officer, Jack Hinchliffe, among several recent moves.

Hinchliffe has worked for parent company Yum Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) for the last eight years and hails from fellow portfolio company KFC and its international sector in the U.K. and Ireland.

He was responsible for new projects such as overseeing the fried chicken restaurant chain’s first pub abroad and the launch of its own delivery channel last year.

“He was instrumental in driving change across food, communications and media to make KFC more relevant, more distinctive and easier to access,” company officials said in a statement.

Hinchliffe aims to execute a similar brand-building plan at The Habit, which was acquired by Yum Brands in 2021 for $375 million.

“It’s an incredible business but there is still work to be done to build a brand that connects with people in a competitive and cluttered category, and I’m excited for the challenge,” Hinchliffe said.

Digital Growth

The Habit’s president, Shannon Hennessy, is another recent transfer from KFC, transitioning from her former role of global chief financial officer to president last September.

The Santa Barbara-born burger chain has also promoted its former Chief Brand Officer Iwona Alter to chief operating officer. Alter is credited for the growth of the chain’s digital marketing, which last year saw a big boost in use.

The Habit’s “burgeoning digital channel finished the year strong with digital mix ending at 35%, a truly impressive level after only launching in 2020,” said Yum Brands CEO David Gibbs last month, during the parent company’s latest earnings call with analysts.

Franchising Up

Yum Brands has also recruited from its other fast-casual chains to add to the burger business.

Another Yum Brands veteran Tiffany Furman was named The Habit’s chief financial officer last October.

Furman had spent the last 14 years working for the parent company with her previous role at Irvine-based Taco Bell.

The Habit has grown to over 350 restaurants in 14 states. It aims to nearly double its base of restaurants by 2027 by adding 40 to 50 spots a year.

The Habit is “now 18% franchised, which is up 5 points from last year,” Gibbs told analysts.

“With $2 million average unit volumes and a compelling growth strategy, I’m confident in the long-term growth of our newest brand.

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