Chipotle's delivery sales are exploding, and the CEO says it's great news for the struggling chain in more ways than one

  • Chipotle's delivery sales increased by 667% after it launched its partnership with DoorDash less than two weeks ago.

  • Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol told Business Insider that delivery, as well as mobile orders and catering, are huge opportunities for the chain.

  • The delivery success also gives Chipotle a much-needed "win" that Niccol says can help fuel the company's openness to creativity and trying new tactics.

Chipotle's delivery sales are skyrocketing after it announced a deal with DoorDash.

On Tuesday, the fast-casual chain announced that delivery orders had increased 667% since it launched its partnership with DoorDash on April 30.

"This is a nice win for the organization," Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol told Business Insider. "It demonstrates we've done something new."

Niccol started the CEO job in early March after leaving his post as Taco Bell's chief executive. His mission: turning around a chain that still has yet to fully recover from an E. coli outbreak that took place in late 2015.

Delivery quickly emerged as an untapped opportunity. Most Chipotle locations have a "second line" dedicated to making burritos, bowls, and more for customers other than those who are ordering in the restaurants, such as for mobile orders and catering.

"One of the first things I uncovered was the second make line," Niccol said. "I was just like, this is a huge ... capability that we have not been taking full advantage of."

While astronomical delivery figures can be attributed in part simply to the fact that Chipotle hasn't made much of an effort with delivery, Niccol is confident that sales will continue to increase, along with off-premise business more generally.

"I guess this is good news-bad news, but there are still people who aren't aware that Chipotle delivers," he said.

In addition to being a convenient way to boost sales, early delivery results are important in that they get momentum going at a time when Chipotle needs the drive. With founder Steve Ells now in the backseat as executive chairman, Niccol is well-served by a quick success.

"It builds belief in the culture of 'Hey, we're going to have creativity, we're going to be a learning organization,'" Niccol said.

Niccol continued: "The little wins along the way are very important."

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