DEERFIELD, ILL. — The board of directors of Cosi, Inc. has elected Stephen Edwards as president and chief executive officer. He succeeds Carin Stutz, who has resigned to pursue other opportunities. Ms. Stutz had been c.e.o. since 2011.
In appointing Mr. Edwards to the new post, Cosi’s board emphasized the company’s first priority must be “to shrink its cost structure, limit its need for capital investment and become a profitable business.”
“At the same time, Cosi must adopt a strategy for rejuvenation and growth,” the board said. “To that end, Edwards will lead Cosi’s efforts to evaluate its existing portfolio of restaurants to identify refranchising opportunities with new and existing franchisees as part of its overall effort to accelerate franchise growth.”
Mr. Edwards said Cosi’s focus will be on giving its franchise partners and other entrepreneurs like them the tools they need to grow the Cosi system.
Mr. Edwards, who previously was executive chairman of the board, also will lead the initiative already under way to exit a number of underperforming locations. Finally, as part of the restructuring effort, Così implemented reductions in its administrative workforce today that will result in an annual savings of approximately $1 million.
“Così is a great brand,” Mr. Edwards said. “Our mission is to create a business model that builds on the strength of our brand while generating profits for our shareholders. And to do so quickly.”
Prior to joining Cosi, Mr. Edwards was a managing member of Edwards Capital Management L.L.C., a private investment company. From July 2002 to January 2009, he was a senior managing director of Atticus Capital L.L.C., a private investment partnership. Prior to that time, he was a senior managing director of Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co., L.L.C., a middle market leveraged buyout fund. He has previously served on the boards of directors at Kemet Corp., Smith Alarm Holdings, Town Sports International Holdings, Au Bon Pain Inc., Windy Hill Pet Food Company Inc., Unwired P.L.C., Anvil Holdings, and Champps Entertainment Inc.
He received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale University and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School.