Sonic Corp.’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Cliff Hudson will retire and Claudia San Pedro, who currently serves as president, will lead the drive-in restaurant change.
This leadership change will be effective with the acquisition by Inspire Brands, which is expected to occur in December, subject to shareholder approval. Hudson will assist with the transition, serving as Senior Advisor to SONIC until March 2019. Following completion of the transaction, San Pedro will report to Inspire Chief Executive Officer Paul Brown and will serve as part of the Inspire executive team.
Hudson is a 34-year veteran of SONIC, joining as assistant general counsel in 1984. Appointed as CEO in 1995, Hudson led the brand’s growth from nearly 1,500 drive-ins in 27 states with system-wide sales of $905 million to 3,600 drive-ins in 45 states and system-wide sales of $4.5 billion. Only SONIC’s founder, Troy Smith Sr., led the company for a longer period of time (1953-1983). During Hudson’s leadership tenure, SONIC has become recognized as a champion for diversity and inclusion as well as a strong supporter of public education and community organizations across the state and nation.
“I am delighted that Inspire has selected Claudia to continue as President,” said Hudson. “She has shown terrific leadership and deep strategic insight throughout her roles at the company, and I’m confident that she is the right person to lead SONIC going forward. I look forward to supporting Claudia and the team through the transition and watching SONIC succeed for many years to come.”
San Pedro was named President of SONIC in January 2018 and has served in various leadership roles at the company throughout her 12-year tenure.
Ninety-five percent of SONIC’s more than 3,600 drive-ins are owned by local business men and women.