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Zoe’s Kitchen CFO Jason Morgan resigns

Zoe’s Kitchen CFO Jason Morgan resigns

Controller James Besch to fill position while company searches for successor

Zoe’s Kitchen Inc. chief financial officer Jason Morgan has resigned, the company said Thursday.

Zoe’s Kitchen controller James Besch will serve as principal financial officer while the company searches for a permanent replacement, the Plano, Texas-based fast-casual operator said. Besch has served as Zoe’s controller since January 2013, and as vice president of accounting since April 2014.

Morgan’s resignation “to pursue other business interests” was effective as of Thursday, the company said in a statement.

Since Morgan joined Zoe’s Kitchen as CFO in May 2008, he “has played a vital role in the evolution and extraordinary growth of our company, including our successful 2014 initial public offering,” Zoe’s Kitchen president and CEO Kevin Miles said in statement.

“He leaves us with a stable foundation to continue to capitalize on our long-term growth opportunity, and we wish him well in his future endeavors,” Miles said.

Zoe’s Kitchen noted that Morgan’s departure was not related to any disagreement with the company’s board, audit committee or auditors.

Analysts were cautious in notes released Friday in the wake of the announcement.

Nicole Miller Regan, senior research analyst with Piper Jaffray, wrote in her note that “we remain generally wary of executive turnover and note that this announcement came as a surprise to us following the company's trend of delivering consistently solid results. That said, our follow-up call with the company left us feeling comfortable that this transition was in the natural course of business and not the result of past, current nor latent disagreements.”

David Tarantino of Baird Equity Research wrote that “we have a high degree of confidence that the company will be able to attract a highly qualified candidate in a relative short time frame.”

For the first quarter ended April 20, Zoe’s Kitchen reported a profit of $692,000, or four cents per share, compared with a loss of $10 million, or 76 cents per share, the previous year. Revenue increased 36.2 percent, to $63 million, from $46.3 million the previous year. Same-store sales rose 7.7 percent.

Zoe’s Kitchen was founded in 1995, in Birmingham, Ala., and has 150 locations in 16 states.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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