Paul Brown, CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings and Arby’s parent Inspire Brands, is taking on an additional responsibility: non-executive chairman of Neiman Marcus, the high-end retail chain that emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September.
The retailer has overhauled its board as part of its restructuring, which saw the company shed $4 billion in debt and eliminate about $200 million in annual interest payments. Brown’s appointment expands the board to seven members. Neiman Marcus notes that women hold a variety of seats, and that the roster is far more diversified than the one it replaced.
The new members include Kris Miller, chief strategy officer for eBay, and Geoffroy van Raemdonck, Neiman Marcus’ CEO. Brown is the only restaurateur in the group.
The appointment comes as Inspire is finalizing its purchase of Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins parent Dunkin’ Brands in a deal valued at $11.3 billion, one of the biggest transactions in the restaurant industry’s history.
Brown is also on the board of H&R Block, the retail accounting chain, and Focus Brands, the franchisor of Moe’s Southwest Grill, Jamba, Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s. Both Focus and Inspire are holdings of Roark Capital, a private-equity firm with extensive restaurant holdings, including a $200 million investment in The Cheesecake Factory.
Inspire was formed in 2018 through the purchase of Buffalo Wild Wings by Arby’s. The brands, along with a smaller Buffalo Wild Wings holding called Rusty Taco, became the foundation for the new holding company.
Its other brands include Jimmy John’s and Sonic.
Before entering the restaurant business as CEO of Arby’s, Brown was president of brands and commercial service for Hilton Worldwide, the multi-brand hotel operator and franchisor, and president of Expedia North America, the online travel agency.
“He has deep expertise in brand management and consumer loyalty strategies,” van Raemdonck said in a statement. “His track record of leading transformation and innovation for consumer-driven companies will deliver incredible value for Neiman Marcus Group as we build on our strong foundation and accelerate our strategy to become the preeminent luxury customer platform.”
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