GLENDALE, CALIF. — Julia Stewart, chairman and chief executive officer of DineEquity, Inc. and interim president of the Applebee’s business unit, will resign from the company March 1. She has been with the company 16 years.
Richard Dahl, DineEquity’s current lead director, has been named interim c.e.o. and chairman while the board of directors conducts a search for a replacement.
"DineEquity will continue to invest in the long-term success and growth of both IHOP and Applebee's,” Mr. Dahl said. “I will be working very closely with the Applebee's franchisees to improve performance. While a turnaround of Applebee's will not happen immediately, the results of a comprehensive diagnostic conducted by a world class management consulting firm has enhanced our understanding of what has driven our recent sales trends. More importantly, we have a go forward plan to improve performance, and have worked with the same firm to validate our initiatives and identify additional creative strategies to expeditiously return Applebee's to growth."
Mr. Dahl has served on the board of directors since February 2004 and has more than 35 years of experience in senior management of public and private companies.
"For more than 16 years, Julia has been a strong and valued leader of DineEquity and the IHOP and Applebee's brands and has made numerous and lasting contributions to the business," Mr. Dahl said. "Under Julia's leadership, DineEquity has become one of the largest full service, fully franchised chains in the world. She led the successful turnaround of IHOP early in her tenure, drove the acquisition and re-franchising of Applebee's and transitioned DineEquity to an asset light model. We thank Julia for her service to DineEquity's stockholders and her unwavering commitment to DineEquity and its franchisees."
To replace Mr. Dahl, the board has appointed Caroline Nahas as DineEquity’s lead director, and Douglas Pasquale will succeed Mr. Dahl as chairman of the audit and finance committee. Upon completion of the c.e.o. search, the DineEquity board of directors plans to separate the chairman and c.e.o. roles."I am honored to have led this extraordinary global company through significant periods of growth and transformation over the last 16 years,” Ms. Stewart said. “It has been a privilege to lead two iconic brands, both No. 1 in their respective categories. I am also grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such talented and passionate executives, team members and franchisees. I am confident in the strong roadmap that has been set forth, and will continue to cheer for the company's success."