Dunkin' Donuts Brings in New CEO

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Dunkin' Donuts Brings in New CEO

CHICAGO -- Dunkin' Donuts will be under new leadership in 2009, as longtime CEO Jon Luther will step aside and Nigel Travis, who departed Papa John's as president, becomes CEO of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins effective Jan. 9, AdAge.com reported.

According to the coffee and doughnut chain, Luther, 65, who served as CEO for six years, had been working with Dunkin's board to find a replacement since early this year. Luther will remain as chairman of the board, a position he assumed in 2006.

"They're looking for more aggressive leadership in these challenging times," said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, a research and consulting firm. "They're looking for someone with proven success and experience in growing a brand."

Travis, 58, who had been with Papa John's since 2005, is credited with building the pizza company's online business, growing its international presence and spearheading new-product rollouts like Papa's pan pizza, the report said. Prior to Papa John's, he worked for Blockbuster from 1994 to 2004, eventually serving as the company's president. At Blockbuster, Travis helped build an international franchise network in 15 countries and transitioned the company into other forms of entertainment, such as video games.

His international experience will come in handy as Dunkin' expands its global presence. "Nigel's ability to develop strong franchisee networks, his understanding of the intensely competitive global marketplace, and his innovative, results-oriented style will build on the powerful momentum already in place at our Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins brands," Luther said.

The new leadership comes at a time when the company is expanding its presence on the West Coast and in the Southwestern U.S., and sharpening its characteristically quirky marketing, according to AdAge. Dunkin' recently launched an ad campaign from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Hill Holliday, Boston, touting the results of an "independent taste test." At the time, Dunkin's chief branding officer Frances Allen said the current economic environment called for "sharper messaging."

At Dunkin', Travis will have his hands full as the chain is steeped in a brutal coffee war. Starbucks has begun its own version of discounting, and Subway will introduce the Seattle's Best Coffee brand in nearly 2,000 locations in January. McDonald's franchisees are diligently working to complete the chain's ambitious McCafe rollout, and national advertising is expected by mid-2009, the report stated.