Former KFC UK boss Paula Mackenzie started her new role as CEO of Pizza Express today.
She will work with the 450-strong chain’s senior team to develop its growth priorities, with an increased customer focus led by digital transformation.
Ms Mackenzie is well-known for building talented, high-performing teams and empowering them to deliver bold, courageous work.
As CEO she will lead a team of 10,000 people and oversee the next stage of growth for Pizza Express, ranging from the expansion of its loyalty app to restaurant refurbishment.
She said: “PizzaExpress is a much loved, iconic brand that holds a special place in the nation’s heart. As someone who thrives on bringing brands to life, I’m thrilled to be working with [chairman] Allan [Leighton] and the whole team at PizzaExpress leading this brand and business through its next chapter of growth.”
Ms Mackenzie spent 11 years in senior executive roles at KFC owner Yum! Brands, including CFO, chief development officer and chief marketing officer.
As managing director of KFC, she led many transformational aspects of the UK and Ireland business, such as the growth of its delivery and ecommerce operations.
Mr Leighton said: “We are delighted that Paula will join the Pizza Express team as CEO, she has a terrific track record of performance and importantly is a champion of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion.
“I would like to thank Zoe Bowley and Jo Bennett for jointly leading the business during this interim period. Paula is joining at an exciting time for PizzaExpress and will work with our leadership team to drive priorities for growth, including an increased customer focus led by rapid digital transformation.”
Pizza Express opened its first ever restaurant in London’s Soho in 1965 and was one of the first to adopt open kitchens showcasing the pizza expertise of its pizzaiolos.
It now has over 360 restaurants in the UK and Ireland, and 450 in total including Hong Kong, UAE and franchise operations across Asia, Middle East and Europe.