Popeyes’ buyer sets change in leadership

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Longtime Popeyes CEO Cheryl Bachelder will leave the chain after its $1.8 billion acquisition by Burger King and Tim Hortons parent Restaurant Brands International is completed, the chicken chain said this morning.

Bachelder took over Popeyes in 2007, when the brand was in bad shape. Sales were plummeting, the franchise community was in an uproar, and the system was plagued with units sporting a variety of antiquated, tired designs. And then the recession hit.

Focusing on fundamentals and such granular matters as getting better headsets for drive-thru staffers, Bachelder largely rebuilt the system after disenfranchising units by the dozens. Per-store sales are running 45% higher than they were at the time she took the CEO’s job, and restaurant operating profits have doubled, according to Popeyes.

“Cheryl created a collaborative culture among franchisees and the Restaurant Support Team. It's been a true partnership that turned out to be the secret to success for Popeyes,” Howard Mangen, president of the Popeyes International Franchise Association, said in a statement. “Her leadership approach was a welcome one and led to an exciting and profitable 10 years for the Popeyes brand.”

The chain said that RBI will put a new leader in place once the $79-a-share tender offer is consummated.

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