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Sandra Cochran, president and CEO, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store
Sandra Cochran is stepping on the gas.
Though Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s $2.9 billion in annual sales make it the largest family-dining chain by a comfortable lead, president and CEO Cochran is ramping up innovation to help it keep pace with consumers and navigate a challenging segment.
Changes have come on multiple fronts. The chain has introduced new menu items, including bone-in fried chicken, which is set to roll out systemwide this summer. It has put muscle behind its catering operations. And it recently launched a licensed home goods and apparel collection, in partnership with Country Living magazine, available exclusively at Cracker Barrel locations nationwide.
Cochran has also been working to extend the company’s reach into more urban locations with Holler & Dash, a fast-casual biscuit restaurant.
She has been a steady force at the brand since she took the CEO role in 2011, steering it through tough years for the family-dining segment. She previously served two years in the chief financial officer and chief operating officer posts at the company.
Cracker Barrel has not been immune to the sales and traffic challenges that have plagued its competitors, but it recently announced positive same-stores sales for both restaurant and retail divisions for the first quarter of 2019.
Cochran shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Rather than retire, as she became eligible to do when she turned 60 last August, Cochran recently signed on to extend her employment agreement with the Lebanon, Tenn.-based company for the second time in her tenure.