The board of Guzman y Gomez forced its chief executive, Steven Marks, into a secret plan “involving cult-like life coaches and non-legal advisors to try to transition him to a credible, reliable executive”, the former management team responsible for the group’s expansion into North America has claimed.
In documents filed in California courts, executives involved with the Mexican-themed restaurant chain until earlier this year accused the Guzman y Gomez leadership team of racism and ageism – and that one of the company’s marketing managers told staff at one store that “we don’t give [promotional] T-shirts to fat people”.
Guzman y Gomez CEO and co-founder Steven Marks (left) was being performance managed according to court documents filed by consultant Greg Creed (right).
Guzman y Gomez has described the allegations – and a demand for $US100 million ($152 million) – as a cash grab and “retribution” by underperforming employees. This month, the lawsuit was settled with a $US1 million payment to the six complainants and the buyback of $15.9 million in shares.
The claim was brought against Guzman y Gomez – backed by Barrenjoey Capital Partners, Aware Super and TDM Growth Partners – by Greg Creed, an Australian who ran Yum! Brands in the United States until 2019, and other fast food executives who offered consulting services to the company. They were later employed by Guzman y Gomez as its North American executive.
Mr Creed, who had overseen Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut chains as Yum! Brands chief executive, claims his introduction to Guzman y Gomez was brokered by Magellan Financial’s then chairman Hamish Douglass in 2021.
Guzman y Gomez also denies that its board – which includes former Kmart managing director Guy Russo andRead more on afr.com