On 8 February, Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) closed all of its restaurants for an hour for a heart-to-heart talk with employees. It reopened with a big marketing campaign consisting of free burritos and feel good slogans to entice customers back to its stores. Chipotle’s financials and reputation were battered in the fall of 2015 from outbreaks of E.coli and norovirus in a number of restaurants across the US. Early this year, Chipotle reported more stringent measures to improve food safety while acknowledging that it faces an uphill battle to recovery in 2016.
This humbling experience presents new opportunities for Chipotle not only in food safety but in addressing emerging issues in the food industry, such as rising obesity rates. It has also been handed a chance to learn from its management of the food safety crisis to improve labor conditions and indeed, its own transparency.
Stay tuned for a deeper analysis of Chipotle in my first Company Focus blog entry soon.