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Former Whataburger executive to lead Bojangles’

Charlotte-based Bojangles’ Restaurants has turned to Whataburger for its new CEO.

Clifton Rutledge, an executive with the Texas-based hamburger chain, will take over Jan. 24 for outgoing Bojangles’ CEO Randy Kibler, the chicken-and-biscuits maker announced Wednesday. In September, Kibler announced that he’d retire when a replacement for him was found. Kibler will keep his role as chairman.

Rutledge had been chief operating officer at Whataburger. The chain does not have any locations in North Carolina and is not related to the What-A-Burger restaurants in Concord, Kannapolis and Mooresville.

Previously in his 30-year restaurant career, Rutledge has held positions at TCBY and KFC. He’ll move to Charlotte to take over the top job at Bojangles’.

Bojangles’ said in the announcement that Rutledge will focus on expanding within the Southeast and increasing sales.

“Clifton’s proven leadership and broad experience in the quick service category make him the ideal leader to guide Bojangles’ continued growth,” Kibler said in a statement. “We have the utmost confidence in the wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm he brings to our brand.”

The company, known for its chicken, biscuits and sweet tea, was founded in Charlotte in 1977. The first restaurant opened at West Boulevard and South Tryon Street. The company ran into trouble after far-flung expansion in the 1980s, and eventually shrank to fewer than 200 locations.

Bojangles’ has since rebounded, and now has about 575 corporate and franchised locations. That’s about 8 percent more than Bojangles’ reported at the end of 2012. The chain is controlled by Boston private equity firm Advent International, which bought a controlling stake in 2011. Staff writer Ely Portillo contributed

Dunn: 704-358-5235; Twitter: @andrew_dunn
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