Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison, who has helmed the wing chain for a decade and helped shepherd it through its IPO and make it a rare industry success during the pandemic, resigned Monday.
President and COO Michael Skipworth takes over as CEO, the Dallas-based chain announced.
Morrison resigned from Wingstop to become CEO of drive-thru salad concept Salad and Go, which has about 50 locations in Arizona and Texas.
“It’s with mixed emotions that I announce my resignation from Wingstop,” Morrison said in a statement. "It's been an incredible 10 years and I will be forever proud of the growth and outstanding achievements of the past decade. Michael has worked closely with me as a trusted partner and colleague, and I cannot think of a better person to serve as Wingstop's President and CEO. I have a profound amount of respect and confidence in Michael as he leads the brand in its next phase of monumental growth."
Skipworth has been with Wingstop since 2014 and has served as EVP, CFO and, most recently, as president and COO. With his appointment, he will also join Wingstop’s board of directors.
“I’m humbled and excited for this next chapter with Wingstop,” Skipworth said. "Charlie and I have worked together over the past eight years to grow and scale the brand globally, and we have a great deal of momentum as we look to the future. I feel confident we have the right talent and team with a clear strategy to continue delivering our unparalleled and industry-leading results. On a personal note, I will greatly miss Charlie's partnership but am looking forward to seeing the amazing things he accomplishes in his new role."
Wingstop had just 533 units when Morrison became CEO in 2012. The chain now has more than 1,700 global units. It went public in 2015.
Morrison, who studied computer programming in college, brought to the fast casual a laser-like focus on growing digital transactions.
With that foundation in place, coupled with strong consumer desire for chicken wings while quarantining, Wingstop reported same-store sales growth of 21.4% in 2020.
Overall, the chain has posted more than 18 straight years of positive same-store sales growth. But momentum has slowed a bit in recent quarters due to soaring wing prices and labor costs.
Wingstop’s pandemic success unleashed a crop of virtual wing brands.
“We’ve arrived at the point that we believe chicken wings is the answer to same-store sales growth,” Morrison told analysts early last year, dismissing those wing upstarts. “Having a robust digital infrastructure already in place and a proper delivery partner have more to do with the strength of the brand than anything else.”
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