Friday, April 17, 2009

Another ex-Quiznos heavyweight resurfaces

Steve Provost, the one-time George H. Bush speechwriter and longtime executive of KFC, has joined Brinker International's Maggiano's Little Italy chain as senior vice president of marketing and brand strategy. But the real point of dramatic interest is that he's no longer with Quiznos, which he served as chief marketing officer.

The announcement from Brinker, better known as the parent of Chili's, doesn't say when Provost (pronounced "pro-voe") left Quiznos. He was part of the dream team that Greg Brenneman, the turnaround specialist who led Burger King through its comeback effort, had assembled after buying a big stake in the franchisor. Among them was longtime Yum! operations chief Dave Deno, who was brought in as Quiznos' president in January 2008 and ultimately succeeded Brenneman as CEO. He was out five months later.

Provost, who joined Quiznos as CMO in 2007, was presumably one of Deno's direct reports.

Theno resigned for "personal reasons" in February, when Quiznos announced that top day-to-day responsibilities would be given back to Rick Schaden, a prior owner and franchisee of the company and still a significant stakeholder. Brenneman remains involved as executive chairman.

The other big-name member of the Deno team was Clyde Rucker, a Burger King alumnus who joined the sandwich franchisor at almost the same time as Provost did. In September, Rucker was named chief operating officer of Quiznos.

Quiznos, a virtually all-franchised chain, has been beset by rocky franchise relations for years. It recently has been very aggressive in marketing itself against competitors like Subway. Recent steps include the introduction of $5 toasted subs, which matched Subway's discounted price, and, more recently, the rollout of new sandwiches called Torpedos, as in the things that sink subs. They're priced at $4.

Quiznos has about 5,000 stores. Maggiano's has 45. Provost reports to Maggiano's president Wyman Roberts, who also serves as CMO for all of Brinker.

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