The Drive-Thru: McDonald’s CEO shakeup, ‘chaos’ at Jet, and a Wegmans food court review

Wegmans' food court wowed us this week.

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Wegmans’ food court wowed us this week.
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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Hello from sunny California, and welcome to The Drive-Thru! You can sign up to become a Drive-Thru subscriber here to get an explanation of what is really happening in retail in your inbox every Friday.

It’s been a hectic week. I’ve been traveling for work. Stories are still to come, but if you have thoughts on plant-based “meat” and/or burritos, shoot me an email at ktaylor@businessinsider.com. I’ve been a bit too overwhelmed with the onslaught of breaking fast-food news this week to start writing anything yet, so your input would be welcome!

As the week comes to a close, read on for my attempt to sort things out.

What is going on with retail CEOs?

On Sunday evening, McDonald’s announced that Steve Easterbrook was out as CEO after having a relationship with another employee. He will be replaced by Chris Kempczinski, who previously ran McDonald’s US business. Then, on Thursday, Gap Inc. announced that CEO Art Peck would be stepping down as the company reported another quarter of slumping sales.

Taking these exits along with the last few weeks’ departures, which included Nike’s Mark Parker, Under Armour’s Kevin Plank, and Barneys’ Daniella Vitale, it’s clear a CEO exodus is hitting retail. Through October, more than 1,332 CEOs have stepped down, according to staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

I spent the week trying to understand what the CEO swap means at McDonald’s. Strategically, Kempczinski – or Chris K., as he’s known at the company – is in line with his predecessor. But, the new CEO has clashed with franchisees in the past.

According to franchisees, Kempczinski has worked to be more collaborative over the past year, with McDonald’s making some concessions to franchisees. Leaked documents I got my hands on show that franchisee groups are focusing on the positives, and they seem cautiously optimistic.

But, franchisees are also emphasizing strength in numbers and the importance of making their voices heard. If Kempczinski stops listening to franchisee concerns, the owner-operators are ready to fight back.

Read my story on what McDonald’s franchisees really think of the new CEO, here.

If you’re a McDonald’s insider who thinks I missed something or a franchisee with a story to share, reach out at ktaylor@businessinsider.com.

Jet’s leadership exodus is causing chaos

Jet is facing

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Jet is facing “chaos,” according to employees.
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Business Insider

Even when a company’s CEO remains, a mass exodus of executives can create chaos at work.

Hayley discovered that at least eight vice presidents and five senior directors have left Walmart’s e-commerce site Jet this year, seven of whom left over the course of two months this summer. Internally, the departures are causing significant anxiety, workers told Hayley.

“We’re all sort of fighting through the chaos and trying to make sense of all of it as people are leaving,” one senior Jet employee said. “It’s apparent big leaders are leaving every month … and there’s a snowball effect in many ways.”

Subscribe to BI Prime and read Hayley’s full story here.

Influencers are selling clothes straight from closets to followers

Duan Mackenzie Nelson models her own blouse to sell on Instagram.

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Duan Mackenzie Nelson models her own blouse to sell on Instagram.
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Courtesy of Duan Mackenzie Nelson

Bethany talked to people who are using Instagram to sell their secondhand clothes, which allows them to avoid fees and tap into their captive audience of followers.

Micro-influencer Duan Mackenzie Nelson regularly holds “Sunday Closet Cleanouts,” where followers can buy items via Instagram Story. Nelson then personally ships each item along with a handwritten thank-you note.

“It genuinely makes me feel good,” Mackenzie Nelson said of her Instagram sales. “I think it’s a nice way to clear your closet and your mind. If you have minutes to take a picture and post it on Instagram Stories, why not?”

Read Bethany’s full story on Instagram’s role in the exploding resale industry here.

The return of Popeyes’ chicken sandwich turned deadly

A Popeyes in Brooklyn.

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A Popeyes in Brooklyn.
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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The return of Popeyes’ chicken sandwich should have been cause for celebration. And, many people were enthused to see the sandwich return to menus (even if it may be a bit smaller this time around).

However, on Monday, a man was stabbed to death in a Popeyes parking lot. Police confirmed that an argument in the line for the chicken sandwich sparked the incident.

While some may point fingers at Popeyes or fans of the chicken sandwich, the incident highlights ongoing problems faced by people who work at fast-food chains.

In 2017, 29 food industry workers were murdered while on the job, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. A total of 89 restaurant industry workers died from fatal injuries at work in 2017, with another 72,310 suffering injuries on the job. Many chains have been forced to revamp their approach to violence, including considering new approaches for dealing with active shooters.

Irene and I wrote about the violence faced by fast-food workers here.

Taste test of the week: More love for Wegmans

Wegmans' sushi.

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Wegmans’ sushi.
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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

In happier news, Irene visited Wegmans for the first time and loved it, joining the grocery chain’s cult following.

Irene said that Wegmans’ food court in particular stood out, with consistently fresh and high-quality options. But, the star of the show was surprisingly Wegmans’ sushi selection.

Irene’s take: “Every single bite burst with flavor. And the sea urchin tasted much better than the only other time I’ve splurged on sea urchin – at a Japanese restaurant. It was creamy and light with a hint of seawater.”

Read Irene’s full review of Wegmans’ food court here.

Everything else you need to know

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