Leadership

Josh Kobza named CEO of Restaurant Brands International

The 11-year company veteran, who had been COO, will take over for José Cil on March 1. Cil will remain with the Burger King and Tim Hortons parent company for one year as an advisor.
RBI CEO
Restaurant Brands International, the owner of Burger King, Tim Hortons, Popeyes and Firehouse, has named Josh Kobza CEO. / Photo courtesy of Burger King.

Restaurant Brands International on Tuesday named Josh Kobza CEO, a move that comes just weeks after the owner of Burger King, Popeyes, Tim Hortons and Firehouse Subs hired former Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle to be its new executive chairman.

Kobza, an 11-year company veteran who was most recently RBI’s chief operating officer, will take over for José Cil as part of its “ongoing succession planning process.” Cil, who had been CEO since 2019, will remain with RBI for one year as an advisor.

Company executives on Tuesday suggested that the move was all about speeding the company’s growth. Doyle was brought in to do just that, and RBI had been grooming Kobza to one day take over the CEO seat.

“This is about setting ourselves up for an accelerated pace of growth for the next five to 10 years,” Doyle told investors on Tuesday, in some of his first comments since taking over as executive chairman. “the board of directors has been disciplined about succession planning. We have an exceptional leader with all the relevant experience we need here in Josh, and he’s ready to drive what we believe will be a new era of growth for the company.”

Kobza was chief financial officer for the company between 2013 and 2018, when he was integral to the combination of Burger King and Tim Hortons that created RBI. He was then named chief technology officer before he was given the COO title in 2019. Kobza worked on the acquisitions of Popeyes in 2017 and then Firehouse in 2021.

The move ends Cil’s four-year tenure and the end of his nearly two-decade tenure with the company. He guided RBI through the pandemic, the acquisition of Firehouse and the revitalization of Tim Hortons. He was also CEO of the company as Popeyes introduced its chicken sandwich, the most pivotal new product introduction in modern industry history.

Cil was named the Restaurant Leader of the Year in 2021.

But Burger King U.S. struggled coming out of the pandemic and its own chicken sandwich introduction was a flop, prompting the company to make a $400 million investment behind its revitalization. Burger King’s U.S. same-store sales rose 5% in the U.S., RBI said Tuesday. Big Burger King operator Toms King declared bankruptcy earlier this year.

RBI last year surprisingly lured Doyle to become the company’s executive chairman. At the time, RBI’s now-former co-chairs said the move was designed to accelerate growth and “drive shareholder returns that we believe this company is very capable of delivering.”

RBI’s stock price was down more than 3% in pre-market trading on Tuesday.

“We’ve made great progress over the past few years and I’m very proud of the team we have built at RBI,” Cil said in a statement.

RBI on Tuesday reported systemwide sales growth of 13% in 2022, thanks in part to the addition of more than 1,200 global restaurants. Same-store sales for the company’s four brands rose 8% in the fourth quarter when the company’s earnings rose 21% to $3.25 per share. Revenue rose 9% to $1.7 billion.

Same-store sales rose 11% at Burger King internationally. Popeyes U.S. same-store sales rose 1.5%. Tim Hortons’ same-store sales in Canada increased 11% on the back of that brand’s comeback. At Firehouse, same-store sales rose 1%.

 

Doyle noted that he invested $30 million of his own money into the company as part of his agreement to become executive chairman, and he is locked in for five years. “I’m all in,” he said.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include comments from RBI’s Tuesday earnings call.

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