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Einstein Noah Replaces CEO O’Neill after Lackluster 2013 Store Sales

Louisville Einstein Bros Bagels
Downtown Louisville, Kentucky Einstein Bros.; photo:bmm

LAKEWOOD, Colo. – Fast Casual franchisor Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:BAGL), operating under Einstein Bros., Noah's New York and Manhattan Bagel brands, announced on Monday that effective immediately its board of directors has appointed Michael Arthur as interim chief executive officer and president, following the resignation of Jeff O'Neill earlier in the day.

The chain of over 850 restaurants also announced that comparable store sales for the fourth quarter increased only 0.1 percent over the prior year, while comparable store sales for 2013 versus 2012 was even more lackluster, decreasing 0.3 percent. Although the company did not say how many net outlets in 2013 it gained, it did declare that a record 61 stores were opened during the year despite flat or slightly declining same store sales.

The interim CEO has been a director of the company since October 2004 and served as chairman of the Audit Committee. Mr. Arthur has served as CEO of California Federal Bank and financial advisor to Long John Silver's Restaurants. He also was executive vice president and chief financial officer for Sizzler Restaurants and Procter and Gamble. Mr. Arthur has a B.A. degree from Johns Hopkins University and attended the Wharton Graduate School of Business.

Einstein's chairman of the board Nelson Heumann stated, "We appreciate Michael stepping into the CEO and president roles on a temporary basis and his long tenure on our board will help facilitate leadership continuity until we can complete the process of identifying a suitable replacement. Michael possesses decades of restaurant and management expertise which is ideal for ensuring a smooth and orderly transition during this interim period." Heumann added a few words of praise for the suddenly departed CEO. "We would also like to thank Jeff for his dedicated service to Einstein Noah. Jeff built a strong team, developed a growing franchise and licensing business, and left the company in a better position than when he started. We wish him well as he explores other career opportunities."

The interim CEO added, "I appreciate the opportunity to accept this expanded role with the company and look forward to working with the Board and the talented management team in continuing to build the strong brand and reputation we have established at Einstein Noah."

Einstein Noah's board of directors has initiated a search for a permanent chief executive officer and president.

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