Cosi Investor Blum Offers to Become Chain’s Chief Executive

Cosi Inc. shareholder Brad Blum offered to become the sandwich chain’s chief executive officer and said he will ask the company’s other investors to express their lack of confidence in the board.

Blum, who owns 6.8 percent of Cosi, in an e-mailed statement asked shareholders to participate in a “non-legally binding expression of ‘no confidence’ for the current board.”

The campaign isn’t a proxy fight or a hostile takeover, said Blum, who invests through Winter Park, Florida-based Blum Growth Fund LLC.

“This company is in a crisis situation right now,” Blum said in a phone interview today. “The potential for the brand is quite large but unfortunately that potential has just never been realized.”

Cosi Chief Financial Officer William Koziel didn’t return a phone message seeking comment.

Blum said in the interview that Cosi’s menu should be pared down to fewer items, and its “tired” locations need to be remodeled. Blum is a former CEO of Burger King Corp., which is now closely held and called Burger King Holdings. He said he would accept a salary of $1 in his first year as Cosi chief.

In August, Cosi CEO James Hyatt resigned, and the company named Mark Demilio as interim chief as it searched for a successor.

Deerfield, Illinois-based Cosi rose 1 cent, or 1.3 percent, to 68 cents at 4 p.m. in trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The shares have fallen 43 percent this year.

Founded in 1996, Cosi’s now has more than 100 locations, according to its corporate web site. Its revenue declined 7.5 percent last year to $109.7 million.

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