February 19, 2020 – Retail and consumer focused executive search firm Herbert Mines Associates has placed David McKillips as the new CEO of CEC Entertainment Inc., operators of Chuck E. Cheese. He replaces Tom Leverton, who recently resigned.
“David is a proven executive with a lifetime of experience and success in the family entertainment industry, both domestically and around the world,” said Andrew S. Jhawar, chairman of the board at CEC and senior partner and head of the consumer and retail industry team at Apollo Global Management. “He has demonstrated an ability to drive revenue growth through innovation, marketing, licensing, improved operations and corporate partnerships, which are skills that make him the ideal candidate to lead CEC into its next phase of growth.”
Mr. McKillips has more than 25 years of experience in the family entertainment, media and theme park industries. Most recently, he was president of the international development company at Six Flags Entertainment Corp., responsible for the operations at all properties outside the U.S. In addition, Mr. McKillips served as Six Flags’ senior vice president for in-park services, leading the food and beverage, retail, games and procurement functions across all U.S. Six Flags parks. Prior to joining Six Flags, he served as VP of advertising and custom publishing sales for DC Comics, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment. Earlier, he held leadership roles within Sea World Entertainment and Sesame Place.
“As a national leader in family dining and entertainment, CEC is recognized for its high-quality food, fun and wholesome family entertainment,” Mr. McKillips said. “With the iconic Chuck E. Cheese and Peter Piper Pizza brands, dedicated employees and strategic partnerships, the company is well positioned to expand and provide an even better guest experience going forward.”
As of last fall, CEC Entertainment and its franchisees operated a system of 610 Chuck E. Cheese and 128 Peter Piper Pizza venues, with locations in 47 states and 15 foreign countries and territories.
Challenging Retail Sector
Established in 1978, Herbert Mines is a specialist search firm focusing on the retail, fashion and apparel, beauty, consumer products and services, hospitality, leisure, restaurant and digital/technology industries. The firm is noted for its C-suite recruiting work.
Retailers are facing major shifts in their businesses that call for “unprecedented responses” by CEOs who can effectively lead through change, intuitively and analytically understand the evolving consumer and respond to ambiguity, according to the search consultants. Developed markets, excess retail capacity, rising prices, the shift to omni-channel retail and the unpredictable pace of change in consumer shopping habits all affect the type of leader that retailers need.
Herbert Mines Associates Recruits CEO for Sprouts Farmers Market
Following a nationwide search, Herbert Mines Associates recently placed Jack L. Sinclair as the new CEO of Sprouts Farmers Market which is based in Phoenix, AZ. Amin Maredia stepped down last December to pursue other interests. President and COO Jim Nielsen and CFO Brad Lukow had been serving as interim co-CEOs while the search took place.
In addition, retail CEO turnover is accelerating. Herbert Mines reported that 58 percent of public retail companies with revenues exceeding $500 million and experienced a chief executive change the past five years. This represents 111 CEO transitions.
“Retail is not dying but it is changing form,” Herbert Mines Associates chairman and CEO Hal Reiter said in a recent report on the retail sector. “We are excited to see that many online retailers continue to open physical locations, expanding from a pure play model to an omni-channel play.”
Many digitally native companies recognize that brick and mortar locations are where customers can immerse in brand culture, and the in-store atmosphere has proven to be a key differentiator for brands to create lasting impressions and returning customers, Mr. Reiter said. “With traditional brands and digital-first retailers converging, the true omni-channel strategy will win. Despite the transformation retail and consumer has seen since 1978, we are proud of our ongoing commitment to quality and our role as partners and thought leaders within the space.”
“We have witnessed an unprecedented amount of change within the consumer and retail industry and the speed of change is accelerating,” said Brenda Malloy, president of Herbert Mines Associates. “Our clients are facing a hyper-competitive convergence of channels, coupled with an information/content overload. With that, CEOs are forced to continually anticipate the ‘what’s next’ to ensure the customer is remaining at the core of decision making and they are continuing to re-evaluate their value proposition and organizational structure to ensure C-suite alignment.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media