Famous Brands International chief executive Tim Casey has stepped down to “pursue the next chapter in his career,” the Broomfield, Colo.-based parent of the TCBY frozen yogurt and Mrs. Fields cookies concepts said Tuesday.
Casey had been chief executive at Famous Brands for three years. It was unclear what Casey would do following his resignation, said company spokesman Michael Brennan, who was providing assistance through the transition.
Neal Courtney, the company’s chief operating officer, has been appointed interim chief executive. Both executive changes were effective Tuesday.
"Neal has been an integral part of Famous Brands' growth and success for more than eight years, and we are confident that he is the right person to lead the company through this transition," said Bruce Pettet, chairman at Famous Brands International, in a statement. "The company has initiated a search process for a permanent CEO.”
Under Casey’s leadership, Famous Brands saw many changes and innovations. In 2011, TCBY introduced a self-serve prototype and a new logo and unit design. In late 2012, the company said it would design a new flagship location for Mrs. Fields that would test a new chocolate beverage bar and a new flagship unit for TCBY that would feature a fresh yogurt bar and juice line.
“We really feel it’s our responsibility to always be working on and developing things for our franchise system,” Casey told Nation’s Restaurant News  in November.
Casey also oversaw the company’s January 2012 recapitalization , after which private-equity firm Z Capital Partners LLC and global asset management firm The Carlyle Group took over as majority stakeholders.
“As we head into 2012, our focus is clear: exceed the expectations of our loyal customers through product innovation and great brand experiences; deliver on franchise support across Mrs. Fields and TCBY; and grow our consumer and franchise bases domestically and internationally,” Casey said in a statement at the time of the recapitalization.
Courtney became chief operating officer at Famous Brands in May 2012. He has worked for the company for eight years and has held various roles in finance, sales and management.
“Given the company's strong foundation and recent momentum, I am confident that now is the right time to turn the reins of the company over to new leadership better suited for the next phase of growth and the challenges of execution that lie ahead," Casey said in a statement.
Brennan said that Casey’s resignation was a surprise. “I think any time a CEO resigns it comes as a surprise,” he said. “It’s a decision Tim made to start the next chapter of his life. The company has all kinds of stuff going on, and it’s going to keep moving forward.”
TCBY has more than 650 locations worldwide, and Mrs. Fields products are sold at more than 400 locations in the U.S. and abroad.