Pasadena-based fast-food franchise Wetzel’s Pretzels has named former PetSmart executive Kimberly Smith as the company’s new Chief Financial Officer, says a report in Nation’s Restaurant News Tuesday.
Smith started during the second quarter and replaced Michael Nishi who left last year to take on a senior role at another Southern California restaurant chain.
Smith was PetSmart’s vice president of finance before joining the pretzel chain. She spent 11 years in various finance roles with the company. She has also worked for Kimberly-Clark Corporation and PepsiCo.
“Wetzel’s Pretzels is a brand that is primed for continued franchise growth thanks to its combination of ease of operation, menu simplicity and fresh-baked offerings that resonate with consumers,” Smith said in a statement. “I look forward to advising the brand during its next growth phase, partnering with franchisees to drive profitability and working with our private equity partners and internal leadership team to continue creating guest loyalty and shareholder value through technology implementation, and innovation across various other channels.”
Smith comes in nearly a year after Wetzel’s Pretzels president Jennifer Schuler said they would focus on improving the bottom line for their franchisees and helping them perform better to encourage new operators.
The company is now testing prototype kiosks at upscale malls as a new strategy to maintain steady sales, the report said.
In 2017, the company reported a 1.7 percent increase in same-store sales. Stores at premium mall locations perform even better, Schuler said. Wetzel’s also is adding new stores to Walmart and outlet centers, according to the report.
Recently, the company recently opened its first location in China. A master franchisee there plans to open 50 stores in the country. By the end of the year, Wetzel’s is expected to add about 30 new locations, the report said.