Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith leaves post

  • Signs for push-out forces
  • After almost 21 years on the job
  • Laud and praise for Smith
  • Search for a successor
  • Smith spoke at length and said 124 words

(exechange) — Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 02, 2017 — Sally Smith, chief executive of Buffalo Wild Wings, leaves. As announced by Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Friday, June 02, 2017, Sally J. Smith leaves the post as Chief Executive Officer at the restaurant company in a surprising move after almost 21 years on the job.

It is the end of an era.

Smith’s move comes five months after Jerry R. Rose took over as chairman of Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc.

Sally J. Smith has notified the Buffalo Wild Wings Board of Directors of her decision to retire before the end of the year.

Buffalo Wild Wings will undertake a search for a successor.

No reason given

In the announcement, Buffalo Wild Wings did not explicitly explain the reason for Smith’s move, opening the door for speculation.

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


Buffalo Wild Wings said: “Sally J. Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer, notified the Board of Directors of her decision to retire before the end of the year.”

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in the share price of Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. since October 2015.

Marcato holds 9.9 percent stake

Marcato Capital Management LP reported a 9.9 percent stake in Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. Marcato Capital is a hedge fund.

Marcato was founded by ex-Pershing Square partner Mick McGuire.

Chaired by Jerry R. Rose

Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. is chaired by Jerry R. Rose.

Rose was appointed to be the Company’s Board chairperson in January 2017.

On the job as CEO since 1996

Sally J. Smith has served as the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and President since July 1996, as a director since August 1996 and as the Company’s Chief Financial Officer from 1994 to 1996.

Prior to joining the company, she was the Chief Financial Officer of Dahlberg, Inc., the manufacturer and franchisor of Miracle-Ear hearing aids, from 1983 to 1994.

Smith began her career with KPMG LLP, an international accounting and auditing firm.

Smith holds an inactive CPA license.

She serves on the board of the National Restaurant Association and Alerus Financial Corporation.

Smith will continue to serve as President and Chief Executive Officer until the end of the year or until such time as a successor has been named.

Smith has also withdrawn her candidacy for election to the Board in connection with the 2017 Annual Meeting of Shareholders and the Board will not be nominating a replacement for Smith.


As a general rule, when a top leader announces to step down with no successor available, it’s a sign that the move was unplanned and too early.

Signs for push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Sally Smith’s move.

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

Read the full story in the exechange report 23.2017 ($).