Chipotle is banking on breakfast and drive-thrus to turn around the chain, according to billionaire investor Bill Ackman

  • Chipotle is looking to breakfast and drive-thru windows to boost sales, billionaire investor Bill Ackman said at a conference on Tuesday.

  • Customers have demanded the chain add breakfast burritos to the menu for years.

  • Ackman says that Chipotle's new CEO, who previously led Taco Bell, could bring a new era of innovation to the chain.

Chipotle is looking to adopt fast-food tactics to drive sales, according to investor Bill Ackman.

Ackman, whose hedge fund Pershing Square became Chipotle's largest shareholder when it acquired a roughly 10% stake in the company in 2016, teased new innovations in the works at the struggling chain during a conference on Tuesday.

"Ackman said there was plenty of opportunity to improve the performance of Chipotle under its new Chief Executive Officer Brian Niccol, including introducing desserts and breakfast, extending its hours and adding drive-through windows," Bloomberg reported.

Despite customers' demands for breakfast burritos, Chipotle does not serve breakfast. And, while the company teased a drive-thru test location in 2017, the chain has split from many of its fast-food rivals by not having a drive-thru to-go option.

"There hasn't been innovation at Chipotle in a decade," Ackman reportedly said. "That's really going to change."

Chipotle's shares rose more than 4% on Wednesday following reports of Ackman's comments.

Niccol, previously the CEO of Taco Bell, stepped into the role of Chipotle's CEO in March. Taco Bell experienced a period of impressive growth under Niccol's leadership, as the CEO pushed for creative marketing and wild new menu items such as the Naked Chicken Chalupa.

While both Taco Bell and Chipotle serve tacos and burritos, the two chains' reputations and strategies are extremely different. Chipotle needs a change, however, as it has struggled to win back customers following an E. coli crisis more than two years ago.

The casual-dining chain has already been making some changes. Last year, Chipotle opened a public test kitchen in New York City, testing items such as frozen margaritas and quinoa. One of its first tests was queso, which Chipotle ultimately rolled out across the US.

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