Stewart will step down on March 1. Richard Dahl, DineEquity’s lead director, will assume her duties at that time on an interim basis, the company said.
Simultaneous with the announcement, DineEquity disclosed that Applebee’s domestic comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter of 2016 fell 7.% from the same period of the prior year, and IHOP’s same-store sales slipped 2.1%.
"I am honored to have led this extraordinary global company through significant periods of growth and transformation over the last 16 years," Stewart said in a statement. "I am confident in the strong roadmap that has been set forth, and will continue to cheer for the company's success."
Stewart drew praise for acquiring Applebee's in 2007 for $2.1 billion, but a revitalization of the casual-dining giant has proven difficult. Last spring the chain completed the retrofit all of its units with wood-fired grills to focus on new, more contemporary dishes such as grilled vegetables and steaks. More recently, it turned a spotlight on bargain-priced burgers.