Inspire's Paul Brown named non-exec chairman of Neiman Marcus

He will head a newly formulated board for the luxury retailer, which has just emerged from bankruptcy.
Photograph: Shutterstock

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.”

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


With CosMc's, McDonald's shows its risk-taking side

The Bottom Line: The first unit of McDonald’s opened to long lines in its first two days. The concept proves that the company can get attention. And it’s willing to take some chances.


Big restaurant chains get aggressive on unit growth

The Bottom Line: Yum Brands, McDonald’s and Domino’s are all making a big push to accelerate growth. Most of it will come outside the U.S. But they have domestic plans, too.


Chris Kempczinski changes his tune on restaurant automation

The Bottom Line: While noting that humans will continue to drive restaurants, the McDonald’s CEO notes that the calculus on automation gets closer as labor costs soar.


More from our partners