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Chipotle’s CEO got $33.5M in 2018

Brian Niccol’s pay package came during a year in which the company’s stock returned to prominence on Wall Street.

Chipotle Mexican Grill paid a hefty sum to get the CEO it wanted.

Brian Niccol’s first year at the helm of the fast-casual burrito chain came with a $33.5 million pay package, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed Friday.

The pay package came during a year in which Wall Street largely cheered the former Taco Bell CEO’s arrival—Chipotle stock soared nearly 50% and has only kept going since.

Niccol’s pay package included a salary of $969,231 and a bonus of $1 million, plus nearly $2.4 million in incentive plan compensation.

He also received $12.65 million in stock awards and $15.7 million in option awards.

Niccol’s pay package stands to be among the largest, if not the largest, among publicly traded restaurant company CEOs this year. It was more than twice the package McDonald’s gave to Steve Easterbrook, for instance: Easterbrook received $15.9 million in 2018.

Yet Chipotle is no stranger to large pay packages. Niccol's predecessor, Steve Ells, routinely received some of the largest packages in the industry.

In 2014, for instance, co-CEO Ells received $29 million, and his fellow chief executive Monty Moran received $28.2 million—a dual pay package of $57 million. Investors once voted overwhelmingly against the company’s say-on-pay measure, in what was seen as a rebuke of the company’s pay practices.  

But Chipotle has also had a strong year on Wall Street. Its stock has now more than doubled since Niccol’s arrival. After closing at $710 a share on Friday, it was less than 6% away from the share price’s all-time high.

Under Niccol, Chipotle moved its headquarters to Newport Beach, Calif., overhauled management, reduced layers of decision-making and changed its approach to marketing and innovation. The company’s same-store sales rose 6.1%, thanks in part to its digital initiatives and delivery.

The move from Denver to California did cost the company some relocation and housing expenses. Chief Technology Officer Curt Garner received $465,633 in such expenses last year, while Chief Restaurant Officer Scott Boatwright received $238,231, according to the filing.

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