HVS Executive Search Finds New Leader for Rita’s Franchise Company

HVS Executive Search Linda Chadwick CEO Rita’s Franchise Company

October 12, 2017 – HVS Executive Search has placed Linda Chadwick as CEO and president of Rita’s Franchise Company. Ms. Chadwick comes to the Trevose, PA-based Italian ice and frozen custard chain from Dessange Group North America. The search, conducted for Argosy Private Equity and MTN Capital Partners LLC, was led by HVS Executive Search CEO Court Williams and senior vice presidents Greg Palmer and Bill Conn.

“Linda is an entrepreneurial-type leader who possesses a very strong work ethic and is exactly what Rita’s needs at this point in the brand’s evolution,” said Mr. Williams.

A top priority for the two PE firms, which acquired Rita’s earlier this year, was to put in place the best leader to communicate their vision and implement the most effective strategies to maximize Rita’s growth as a thriving global franchise enterprise, said Mr. Williams. The position requires the expertise of a franchise business leader to work collaboratively with individual owners/operators and demonstrate a deep commitment and balance between the needs of the brand and franchisees. Ms. Chadwick, Mr. Williams said, possesses the experience and has a demonstrated track record of effectively maximizing growth through successful new franchise market sales and development.

A Strong Background

“Often a company’s biggest competitive advantage can be their open- mindedness to exploring people and solutions that transcend the best practices of their direct competitors within the same industry,” said Mr. Palmer. “This is the type of thought-leadership that sets companies apart and allows breakthroughs that change businesses and even industries. Benchmarking against top franchise CEO talent, including those outside of the restaurant industry, was a key factor of distinction with this project. This broader candidate pool aligned well with sourcing talent against competency benchmarks and the PE firms’ overall vision for Rita’s.”

Before taking over at the top of Dessange Group North America, Ms. Chadwick was president and COO of Fantastic Sam’s International, a division of Dessange, and was responsible for more than 1,150 hair-care salons around North America. She also held the position of VP of franchise operations for the Southeast division of Burger King in Miami, overseeing 1,584 franchise locations.

“Argosy and MTN were very collaborative and supportive of our search process and were great partners who communicated well with us throughout the search,” said Mr. Williams.


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Mr. Conn said: “The PE firms believed Linda to be a solid, viable candidate and the process moved very quickly after her initial interview.”

Experienced Recruiters

Today, Rita’s Franchise Company has more than 600 locations in 25 states, most of them franchises. In addition to Italian ice, the company also sells ice cream, frozen custard, Misto, Blendini, ice cream cakes, ice cream sandwiches and gelati.

HVS Executive Search provides human capital advisory services to leaders in the hotel, restaurant, food service and travel/leisure industries. Practice areas include senior-level executive search, mid-management recruitment and organizational development with offices in New York, Denver, Orlando, Atlanta, San Diego, Los Angeles, London, Dubai, Hong Kong, Mumbai and New Delhi.

Mr. Williams has over 27 years of retained hospitality executive search experience within the hotel, restaurant, and travel/leisure industries. He began his career in the restaurant industry after graduating from Cornell’s Hotel School, gaining operational experience prior to launching a career track in human resources with an international restaurant company.

Mr. Conn is based in Atlanta and has 15 years of experience in financial services, hospitality-related business development and sales management coupled with 10 years in executive search, which allows for a multi-dimensional approach to his work. Mr. Conn also serves as an advisory board member for Flow Corp., a cloud-based platform for creating Internet of Things solutions.

Mr. Palmer is based in Orlando. His career in human resources, organizational development and executive search spans over 30 years. He began his post-college career with PepsiCo’s restaurant division, where he spent 11 years in operations management, leadership & development and as a division director of human resources for Pizza Hut. Prior to joining HVS, Mr. Palmer served as chief people officer and head of information systems for Peter Piper Inc. Mr. Palmer also has 13 years of retained executive search experience in the restaurant, hospitality, franchising, retail and food manufacturing industries.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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