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New Dunkin’ CEO charts a path for growth

Dave Hoffmann, who came to Dunkin’ Donuts in 2016, made changes to the brand even before taking over as CEO.

Someone new will be in charge of ensuring more of America runs on Dunkin’.

CEO Nigel Travis is retiring after leading Dunkin’ Brands for nine years. Some “retirement.” The 68-year-old will stick around as executive chairman, with a particular focus on international growth.

Travis concedes it’s time to slow down and smell the coffee: He’ll spend more time with his family — and the Leyton Orient soccer team he now leads in his native England.

Enter Dave Hoffmann, a former top McDonald’s executive. Hoffmann, 50, arrived in 2016 to oversee Dunkin’ Donuts in the United States and Canada. Over time, it became increasingly clear he would be Travis’s successor as CEO. On Wednesday, the Canton-based company made it official.


Hoffmann has already mixed it up. He simplified the menu, launched extra-value deals, introduced a new store format. He’s even testing a name change for the nearly 70-year-old brand. The franchisees say they’re on board with the promotion: Their advocacy group, DDIFO, issued a statement praising Hoffmann.

Hoffmann wants to add 1,000 net new Dunkin’ locations, primarily outside the core Northeast footprint, to the chain’s roughly 9,200 US outlets by the end of 2020. He also pledges to get revenue at stores open at least a year rising 3 percent annually by that point.

Dunkin’ needs to step up the pace on both fronts. Comparable-store sales have been essentially flat lately amid stiff competition from the big guys — Starbucks and Mickey D’s — as well as countless indie coffee shops and regional chains.

About that name change: The new-format stores that open this year — as many as 50 — will just be called Dunkin’, not Dunkin’ Donuts. Hoffmann says the concept is still being tested, but he talks like someone who is ready to switch. After all, he says, there are no donuts in “America runs on Dunkin’.”


Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.