Pizza Express poaches KFC boss Paula MacKenzie to lead recovery

Ms MacKenzie will join the business as chief executive on June 6, taking the role after David Campbell stepped down last October.

27 May 2022

Pizza Express has announced that KFC boss Paula MacKenzie will take over the reins at the restaurant chain next month.

Ms MacKenzie will join the business as chief executive on June 6, taking the role after David Campbell stepped down last October.

The experienced hospitality boss joins Pizza Express from KFC parent firm Yum Brands, where she has led the fried chicken brand’s UK and Ireland business as managing director.

She worked for the group for 11 years, having previously worked at brands including Diageo, GlaxoSmithKline and Innocent.

Paula MacKenzie
Paula MacKenzie will fill the chief executive officer role vacated by David Campbell last year (Pizza Express/PA)

The appointment comes as Pizza Express continues its turnaround following a major restructuring after the impact of the pandemic.

The chain slashed more than 70 restaurants and around 2,400 jobs as it also came under pressure from its heavy debt burden.

Last year, the company completed a £335 million refinancing deal and said it would return to opening new restaurant sites.

Ms MacKenzie said: “Pizza Express 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 Allan (Leighton) and the whole team at Pizza Express leading this brand and business through its next chapter of growth.

“I cannot wait to get started and look forward to personally welcoming customers into our restaurants at a time where we are all reconnecting with the magic of eating out.”

Mr Leighton, chairman of Pizza Express, 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 Pizza Express and will work with our leadership team to drive priorities for growth, including an increased customer focus led by rapid digital transformation.”

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