NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Wendy's International Inc. named John Schuessler president and chief executive officer Friday.|
Schuessler, whose appointment is effective immediately, succeeds the Dublin, Ohio, fast food chain's former CEO, Gordon Teter, who died unexpectedly in December.
The company's founder, Dave Thomas, known for his television spots plugging Wendy's restaurants, will continue as senior chairman.
"Jack has provided outstanding leadership and delivered excellent results during his 25-year career at Wendy's," Thomas said. "He has the right combination of restaurant industry experience, management skills and strategic planning ability to lead our organization."
The 49-year-old Schuessler previously served as president and CEO of Wendy's U.S. operations.
After Teter's death, the president's duties were assumed by Frederick Reed, the company's chief financial officer; Paul Hous, CEO of Tim Hortons, Canada's largest food chain, which Wendy's acquired in 1995; and Schuessler.
Schuessler, who joined the company in 1974 and has held several management positions, said his top goal is to improve shareholder value in the company, whose stock has been under intense pressure since late summer and has been trading closer to the 52-week low of 14 since hitting a high of 31 last July.
The shift toward technology stocks in the last few years combined with uncertainty about the company's leadership following Teter's death, contributed to the company's declining share price despite healthy sales and performance, Wendy's spokesman John Barker said.
Schuessler said he expects the company to meet or exceed its goal of achieving 12-15 percent growth in its annual base earnings per share by enhancing the company's brand names, Wendy's and Tim Hortons, continuing aggressive development, and maximizing the core Wendy's North America and Tim Hortons Canada businesses.
Wendy's, which has more than $7 billion in systemwide sales, operates more than 5,500 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada.
Shares of Wendy's (WEN: Research, Estimates) were off 1/8 at 18-1/8 in early Friday trading.