Focus Brands — parent company of Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, and Jamba —announced the departure of Chief Operating Officer and President Kat Cole on Wednesday. Cole, who has been with the company for 10 years, will leave at the end of the year. Focus Brands confirmed with Nation's Restaurant News that the company is not replacing her in the interim. Instead, the areas that reported to Cole including categories/brands, Global Channels, and Focus Brands International will report straight to CEO Jim Holthouser.
“Focus Brands has seen a strategic transformation in the ten years Kat has been with the company,” Holthouser said in a statement. “In my time as CEO, we’ve managed through unprecedented times in our industry and Kat’s leadership and knowledge have helped us pave the way for an exciting 2021 and beyond. She has built a deep bench of diverse leaders and has helped to position the company and its brands for continued future growth. I am grateful for her partnership and wish her the best as she moves to this next chapter.”
Cole started her career at Focus Brands as president of Cinnabon in 2010, where she led the turnaround of the franchise business and helped get the brand to $1 billion in global retail sales. She was named COO and president, North America, of Focus Brands in 2017, and was a leader in brand management, franchising and licensing operations for the company.
Moving forward, Cole plans to continue her board and advisory duties for various industries and will also be involved with speaking, mentoring, start-up investing and community work.
“Spending the last decade working with iconic brands and exceptional teams and franchisees, while learning from dynamic CEOs, as well as the company’s owners, has been a great privilege,” Cole said. “With the growth we have experienced and the incredible leaders we have put in place, there is no better time to make the transition to my next chapter. I couldn’t be more excited about the direction of Focus Brands or prouder of the great teams that will carry on and pursue our vision of continued expansion.”
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