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Taco Bell adds brand president, digital role

The moves mark an emphasis on technology and global expansion

Taco Bell announced new hires and expanded executive roles that focus on technology and broadening the reach of the brand.

Taco Bell is bringing on Julie Felss Masino who will serve as brand president, a new role for the Irvine, California-based company. She will be responsible for same-store sales growth by “driving innovation, new store development and a frictionless customer experience,” according to a news release.

Masino (left) most recently worked for Mattel. And she has also worked in leadership roles at Starbucks and as CEO of Sprinkles Cupcakes, Inc., which has gained recognition for its cupcake ATMs and devoted fans.

“We are proud of the momentum the Taco Bell brand has seen globally, and the continued growth here at home,” said Brian Niccol, Taco Bell CEO, in the news release.

“We are expanding our leadership team and are excited to bring on Julie as brand president to continue our success and innovation, with a renewed focus on technology and greater access to the brand for consumers.”

Taco Bell, a division of Yum! Brands Inc. has 7,000 restaurants in operation across the United States and another 250 global locations.

In recent years, Taco Bell has embraced technology and released popular new offerings, such as its Nacho Fries, under Niccol’s leadership. According to news reports, Niccol has been short-listed as a potential successor to Steve Ells, who stepped down as CEO of Chipotle. Taco Bell declined to comment on the speculation.

Taco Bell also brought in Elizabeth Baicy (left) as vice president, digital and future works, and Jon Kosoff as vice president, e-commerce and performance marketing. Both positions will lead efforts in new technology initiatives by working with franchisees to “provide both customers and team members with frictionless digital experience.”

In a separate email with the company, a Taco Bell spokesman told NRN that delivery is a priority across the organization.

Baicy comes to Taco Bell from Amazon and other technology-based companies. Kosoff’s previous work at Hot Topic Inc., suggesting a continued push for the company in the retail space. Taco Shop, Taco Bell’s retail store, which sells a selection of branded clothing and accessories, has garnered press attention in the past. In October, Taco Bell announced a partnership with fast fashion retailer Forever 21.

Both Baicy and Kosoff’s (left) roles are new to the company.

Taco Bell also announced three expanded executive roles, which are part of the company’s structure for global growth, according to the release. Liz Matthews’ role of chief food innovation officer will be elevated to oversee international capabilities including research and development, quality assurance, and engineering. Chief operating officer Mike Grams is expanding his title to chief operations and development officer, and his role will now include overseeing growth in Canada and global operations. Chief marketing officer Marisa Thalberg is expanding her role globally as well, and will now serve as chief brand officer.

The company has previously announced a push to add approximately 2,350 restaurants worldwide by 2022, a move that will boost annual sales from $10 billion to $15 billion. Right now, Taco Bell’s U.S. estimated sales per unit are $1.5 million.

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