New leader named for Extended Stay America

Gerardo (Gerry) Lopez has been named the next president and CEO of Extended Stay America and its paired-share REIT, ESH Hospitality, replacing Jim Donald, whose contract expired in February and who will act as a transitional advisor through the end of the year.

Lopez, 56, since 2009 has been the president and CEO of movie theater chain AMC Entertainment Holdings. He took the company public again in December 2013. Lopez also served, as did his predecessor Donald, as a senior executive at Starbucks Corp.

“Strategically transforming companies and brands is what I love to do,” Lopez said. “And we do it by building teams, focusing on the guest experience, innovating, redefining the business model and finding growth.”

Donald, 61, joined Extended Stay America in February 2012 and guided the company through its initial public offering in November 2013.

In a written note, R.W. Baird analyst David Loeb said the move comes after a number of C-suite changes since the November 2013 IPO, adding that Baird believes the board has been considering alternatives for the CEO role since Donald’s contract expired, especially in light of the stock’s poor performance since November 2014.

“Overall, we have a positive view of the management team in place as recent appointments have provided much-needed hotel operations and real estate experience, in our opinion,” Loeb said.