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Denny’s Corporation (DENN - Snapshot Report) recently announced the appointment of John C. Miller as its president and chief executive officer (CEO), effective by February 1, 2011. Miller will replace Denny’s current CEO Debra Smithart-Oglesby who was serving on an interim basis since June 2010. Following the transition, Debra Smithart-Oglesby will continue to serve Denny’s board.

In June last year, the former president and CEO of Denny’s, Nelson Marchioli, resigned and Debra Smithart-Oglesby stepped into his shoes. Since then, Denny’s was on an international search for a suitable replacement. Denny’s current management expects Miller’s vast industry experience, both on operational as well as leadership fronts, to benefit Denny’s over the long term.

Miller’s career graph is dotted with many important roles. Since 2005, he has been the chief executive officer and president at Taco Bueno Restaurants Inc., an operator and franchisor of quick service Mexican eateries.

Prior to joining, Taco Bueno Restaurants, Miller spent 17 years at  Brinker International Inc. (EAT - Analyst Report) where he held several managerial and executive positions. At Brinker, Miller also served as president of its Mexican concepts and accomplished several objectives including supervising On the Border and Cozymel’s, two of Brinker’s high growth concepts.

From 1997 to 2004, he was the president at Romano’s Macaroni Grill. Under Miller’s leadership, Romano’s Macaroni Grill saw the successful execution of a turnaround strategy that resulted in 15 straight quarters of sales and profit growth after three years of declining sales growth. During the said period, Romano’s Macaroni Grill attained a new height by more than doubling its size.

Miller had also held several operational and managerial positions at Unigate Restaurant/Casa Bonita in Dallas.

Of late, Denny’s is trying to transition its business into a franchise-driven model. For fiscal 2010, Denny’s plans to open 24 new company units compared with the previous guidance of 11 units while new franchise units are expected to rise to 102 (includes 70 Flying J sites and 6 university sites) from the earlier projection of 100.

In mid-December, Denny’s completed its franchise convention and remains committed to strengthen its management team in sync with its business model. Under this scenario, we expect Miller’s 30 years of rich restaurant industry experience and able guidance to benefit the company’s franchise-driven growth model, going forward.   

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