Exclusive – KFC appoints Neil Piper as interim UK & Ireland MD: KFC has appointed Neil Piper, its current chief people officer, as interim managing director UK & Ireland, after the sudden departure of Paula MacKenzie, Propel has learned. Piper has been with the fast-food brand since 2008, and has been its chief people officer since June 2017. Previous to that he was director of HR at KFC Global based in Dallas for two and a half years. Before joining KFC he worked at Mitchells & Butlers for just under four years. MacKenzie informed Sabir Sami, KFC’s global chief executive, earlier this week of her intention to leave the business to pursue “interests outside the organisation”. In an internal note seen by Propel, Sami said the next KFC UK & Ireland managing director will be “the subject of a future announcement”. Piper took up his new interim role on Monday (7 March). Sami said: “Over the years with KFC, Paula has enabled bold brand expression, restaurant design and very real progress in our ‘Fast Good’ journey, all the while building strong franchisee and supplier partnerships. During this time, KFC has become a $2.2bn business in the region, contributing more than 1,000 restaurants powered by a 30,000-strong team. Today, the business reports notable strides in brand health and reputation. As many of us have seen and experienced first-hand, Paula’s desire for developing people is one of her greatest contributions to the KFC business. In particular, because of her personal passion to see women succeed, she’s generously given to others through countless one to ones to counsel, coach and empower the women around her. I am confident that our team in the UK and Ireland, learned by Paula, can and will courageously create the next chapter of growth for KFC – done the right way and fuelled by humility and hunger. Please join me in wishing Paula all the very best in her future endeavours and thanking Neil for assuming expanded responsibilities during this time of transition.” MacKenzie stepped up to the managing director role in 2017, after three years as chief financial officer. She was heralded for leading a transformation of the KFC business in the UK and steering it through the supply chain issue that led to a chicken shortage and the company temporarily closing more than 700 of its then circa 900 UK restaurants.
Yum! Brands and Heineken to suspend Russian operations: Yum! Brands, the owner of KFC and Pizza Hut, along with Heineken have become the latest sector companies to pause business in Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. After a number of major western brands, including McDonald’s and Starbucks, bowed to public pressure and suspended operations in Russia, Yum! Brands has followed suit. It said it was suspending 70 KFC company-owned restaurants in Russia and finalising an agreement to suspend all 50 Pizza Hut outlets in partnership with its master franchisee. Yum! Brands has 1,000 KFC restaurants in Russia, most of which are run by franchisees. The company had already previously suspended all investment and restaurant development in Russia. Pizza Hut opened its first Russian outlet at the start of the 1990s. Heineken said on Wednesday (9 March) it had stopped the production and sale of its own-brand beer in Russia, after previously halting all new investments and exports to the country. The Dutch brewer is taking immediate steps to ringfence its Russian operations from its wider business. McDonald’s is also temporarily suspending operations at its 850 locations in Russia. The company said it would continue to pay its 62,000 Russia-based employees. McDonald’s, which owns 84% of its stores in Russia, could take a big financial hit because of the closures because its restaurants in Russia and Ukraine normally contribute 9% of annual revenues, or about $2bn.