Wendy’s Names Interim Chief Executive

NEW YORK Wendy’s International said today it has tapped Kerrii Anderson, the company’s CFO, to serve as interim CEO of the fast-food company.

Anderson succeeds Jack Schuessler, who announced his retirement this week after 30 years with the company.

The executive moves come after more than a year of weak sales and one week after some 700 franchisees formed a breakaway group, called the Old Fashioned Franchisee Association, which complained that the company must devote more attention to franchisee needs and operational issues.

Wendy’s is the nation’s number-three hamburger chain behind McDonald’s and Burger King. On April 6, it reported same-store sales for Q1 2006 down 4.8 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson has handled Wendy’s $380 million U.S. advertising account since 2002 and was awarded the business without a review as the client’s then-agency, Bates, was being dissolved.

Anderson, 48, has been a Wendy’s board member and executive vice president since 2000. She will serve in the CEO position for as long as it takes the board to select a permanent replacement for Schuessler, the company said.

Board member James Pickett has been named chairman. In a statement about the moves, Pickett said, “Kerri has demonstrated excellent strategic management in many key areas of the corporation over the past six years. She has a passion for the Wendy’s business, is committed to strong relationships with our franchisees, and has the respect and support of Wendy’s management team.”

He continued, “The board has established two small working committees to assist management in effecting the changes necessary to make Wendy’s even more vibrant and attractive for customers and franchisees, as well as optimizing shareholder value.”

Pickett said Schuessler, 55, would serve as a consultant to the company for the next two years.

In a statement, Anderson said the three main objectives for Wendy’s are to strengthen its core business by working closely with franchisees, finish spinning off its Tim Hortons and Baja Fresh chains and to cut costs by improving overall operations.

She plans to present a more detailed plan at the annual shareholders’ meeting on April 27 in Dublin, Ohio.