Jon Chesto of the The Patriot Ledger interviewed Nigel Travis, CEO of Dunkin Brands: 

Dunkin Brands CEO Nigel Travis

Dunkin Brands CEO Nigel Travis

When Nigel Travis arrived at Dunkin’ Brands Inc. as its new CEO in January, he took over the role at a time when the company was in the midst of a rapid expansion. He also became the chief executive in the midst of the stiffest recession in decades.

Travis, 59, and a native of England, can draw from many years of experience to prepare for the challenges and opportunities ahead. Before arriving at Dunkin’ Brands, Travis was the president and CEO of Papa John’s, the international pizza chain with more than 3,300 restaurants, from 2005 through 2008. Before joining Papa John’s, Travis was an executive at Blockbuster Inc. for at least 10 years, rising through the ranks to become the video store chain’s president and chief operating officer.

As CEO of Dunkin’ Brands, Travis would like the two chains he oversees – Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins – to continue their growth trajectory, particularly in overseas markets. He also would like to see the brands’ products be sold in an increasing number of outlets other than franchisee-owned shops, such as grocery stores.

Jon Luther, the former CEO, remains at the company as executive chairman of Dunkin’ Brands, which employs about 1,100 people and is owned by a trio of private equity firms. At the end of 2008, Dunkin’ Donuts had 8,835 shops worldwide, including 6,395 in the U.S., and Baskin-Robbins had 6,013 shops, including 2,692 in this country.

What’s the perception of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins outside the U.S.?

Essentially, breakfast isn’t strong in a lot of countries. If you take Asia, it tends to be an afternoon business. We try to ensure that our core signature products are there like coffee, Coolattas and doughnuts. But we try to reflect the local tastes (as well). … I think Dunkin’ Donuts, even though we’re only in 34 counties, is a highly-known name. … In the U.K., even though Papa John’s has 130-odd stores there and we have none, most of my friends know Dunkin’ Donuts.

How has the recession affected franchisees’ eagerness and ability to expand?

Undoubtedly the recession has slowed up interest in franchising, and yes, we will open fewer stores this year than last, but when you compare us with other chains, we’re opening up hundreds of stores (this year). We feel we’ve got a concept that resonates with value. … We’ve found we’re still getting franchisees, not at the same pace as before, but at a much higher pace than other franchise brands. Many companies have been closing more stores than they’ve been opening.

Read more at: Patriot Ledger