Fast food chain Popeyes unmasks crack team picked to lead UK operation


Popeyes has assembled the senior team that it hopes will accelerate its UK growth plans as it prepares to open its first restaurant this autumn. 

The US-born chicken brand is committed to bringing a market-leading digital experience to the UK, with an emphasis on building connections and community for guests.

It has identified the individuals it wants to bring this vision to life and execute plans to open dozens of sites.

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UK CEO Tom Crowley, who came on board last month, will head a highly experienced team that also includes chief development officer Tom Byng, chief technology officer David Carey and chief operating officer Neil Williamson.

A UK CMO and head of people are expected to be appointed imminently, too.

Tom Byng joins as chief development officer in the UK from Fulham Shore, owner of Franco Manca and The Real Greek, where he was instrumental in growing the group to over 70 sites nationwide in five years.

He also played a key role in the expansion of Itsu in the UK, where he worked for seven years, departing as director of acquisitions and estate management.

At Popeyes he will spearhead the sourcing of its first restaurant in London, and thereafter will be responsible for the creation of a rolling programme of acquisitions.

UK CTO David Carey is formerly of The Restaurant Group, where, as digital director he was responsible for brands including Wagamama, Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito.

He will lead on all restaurant and consumer tech, building systems to simplify operations, enable frictionless guest experiences, and understand and analyse guest data.

The digital experience at Popeyes UK will be highly personalised and will act as a ‘calling card’ for the brand within the market.

He will oversee the creation and rollout of Popeyes UK’s dedicated app, which will have its own delivery service from which guests can order directly.

Neil Williamson joins the fold as UK chief operating officer from Farmstand, where he was also COO. Prior to that, he held senior operations roles within Krispy Kreme UK and McDonald’s.

He will have overall responsibility for the operations and people team, ensuring an ‘extraordinary’ employee proposition that will empower team members to deliver guests an exceptional dining experience.

Tom Crowley brings over 20 years’ experience leading UK pub, casual dining and QSR brands – more recently as managing director of Giraffe Concepts and then subsequently as CEO of Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG).

Speaking on the formation of the team, he said: “I’m incredibly proud to reveal this team of talented people who will lead Popeyes UK as we land with a bang in the UK market. The buzz around our arrival is the envy of every restaurant business, and our proposition is unlike anything else on offer here currently.

“We’ve assembled exactly the right blend of progressive, forward-thinking minds to bring it to life in a way which will be completely unique for UK guests.

Mr Cowley added: “We’re keen to leave a lasting legacy in the UK communities we’ll be situated in, through an emphasis on responsible, sustainable practices and jobs creation – spanning critical operational roles in construction, supply chain and distribution, as well as providing a direct boost to the UK hospitality sector by hiring talent to prepare and serve our world-famous products.”

Popeyes UK’s ambitious expansion plans will see the brand create hundreds of jobs across the UK and aim to open 350 restaurants over the next 10 years.

The brand was founded in New Orleans in 1972 and currently operates 3,400 restaurants across more than 25 countries.

Popeyes sails into UK with pledge to open 35 restaurants a year for the next decade

Tags : fast foodPopeyes
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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