DineEquity CEO Julia Stewart leaves at short notice

  • Signs for push-out forces
  • After almost 15 years on the job
  • Laud, praise and thanks for Stewart
  • Richard Dahl taking over in the interim
  • Search for a successor

(management-change.com) — Glendale, California, February 17, 2017 — Julia Stewart, chief executive of DineEquity, leaves. It is a change at short notice. As announced by DineEquity, Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Friday, February 17, 2017, Julia A. Stewart, chief executive officer, leaves the company that both franchises and operates IHOP and Applebee’s restaurants in a surprising move after almost 15 years on the job, effective March 01, 2017.

It is the end of an era.

DineEquity will undertake a search for a successor.

Stewart’s duties are taken over in the interim by Richard J. Dahl, currently lead director at DineEquity, Inc.

“Return Applebee’s to growth”

A reason for the imminent change was not explicitly given. Dahl said: “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.”


DineEquity said: “Julia A. Stewart, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation and Interim President of the Applebee’s business unit, will resign from the Corporation, effective March 1, 2017.”

Stewart will also resign from her role as a director of the Corporation, effective March 1, 2017.

Precise information about the future plans of Stewart was not immediately available.

Share price decline

The change follows a sharp decline in the share price of DineEquity, Inc. since February 2015.

Capital Research Global Investors holds 10.51 percent stake

Capital Research Global Investors reported a 10.51 percent stake in DineEquity, Inc. as of December 31, 2016.

On the job as CEO since 2002

Stewart has been the Chief Executive Officer of DineEquity, Inc. since May 2002 and has been its Interim President of Applebee’s Applebee’s International, Inc. since September 2015.

Stewart, a nearly 45-year veteran of the restaurant industry, serves as chairman and CEO of DineEquity, Inc.

DineEquity is one of the world’s largest full-service restaurant companies, which she led the creation of in 2007 by merging Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar and IHOP Restaurants into what is now an over $8 billion (system-wide sales) company.

DineEquity franchises and operates more than 3,700 restaurants globally in 19 countries under the Applebee’s and IHOP brands, with nearly 400 independent franchisees.

Stewart has demonstrated proven expertise and leadership in brand revitalization and positioning.

Prior to creating DineEquity, she was the first woman CEO of IHOP in the chain’s 54-year history.

She implemented significant shifts in strategy that invigorated the brand, strengthened its franchising position and improved the company’s financial performance by more than doubling system-wide sales.

IHOP is now the market share leader in family dining.

After establishing DineEquity, Stewart utilized a similarly focused, consumer-centric strategy to restore Applebee’s to the leadership position in casual dining.

Prior to leading IHOP and then forming DineEquity, Stewart previously served as President of Applebee’s. Earlier in her career, she also held key executive positions with Taco Bell, Burger King, Carl’s Jr., Black Angus/Cattle Company and Spoons Grill & Bar.

Stewart’s lifelong passion for the restaurant business started with her first job as a teenage food server at IHOP in her native California.

Stewart is a founding member of the Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF), a vital industry organization dedicated to the development and advancement of women, and is the recipient of numerous industry awards, including being named Operator of the Year by Nation’s Restaurant News twice, most recently in 2015.

She has served on the Board for Avery Dennison (NYSE:AVY) since being appointed in 2003 and is currently Chairman of the Board of The Children’s Bureau of Southern California, having been appointed in 2006.

Stewart earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications from San Diego State University.

She also received an honorary doctorate in Business Administration from Johnson & Wales University.

She and her family reside in the Los Angeles area.

Signs for push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Julia A. Stewart’s move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by management-change.com suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the management change.

Read the full story in the management-change.com report 08.2017 ($).