Denny's taps chairman to fill interim c.e.o. post

by Eric Schroeder
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Debra Smithart-Oglesby, chairman of Denny’s Corp., has been named interim chief executive officer of the company. She succeeds Nelson Marchioli, who had been c.e.o. since 2001. Ms. Smithart-Oglesby is expected to serve as c.e.o. until the company completes the process of hiring a permanent c.e.o.

“I am a passionate believer in the Denny’s brand, and I welcome the opportunity to assume this interim role at an important juncture in the company’s history,” Ms. Smithart-Oglesby said. “As the company nears completion of its transition to a franchise-oriented business model, we have been planning for a transition in leadership. Today’s announcement will help accelerate that process and the company’s ability to attract best-in-class candidates for the position of c.e.o. I want to thank Nelson for his dedicated service to the company and the Denny’s brand. He has worked tirelessly on its behalf.”

Denny’s also announced the formation of a strategic team to provide organizational focus on the company’s top priorities during this transition period. The strategic team will be led by Ms. Smithart-Oglesby and will consist of Mark Wolfinger, Denny’s chief financial officer and chief administrative officer; Bill Cox, a large Denny’s franchisee of 16 years; and Bob Langford, a large Denny’s franchisee of 10 years. Mr. Cox will provide support related to operations until the position of chief operating officer is filled, and Mr. Langford will continue to provide support related to marketing until the position of chief marketing officer is filled. The search process for both positions is in an advanced stage, Denny’s said.

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