- Carrols Restaurant Group, which operates over 1,000 Burger King restaurants and 65 Popeyes restaurants, named Deborah Derby as president and CEO, the company announced Thursday.
- Derby succeeds Paulo Pena, who passed away unexpectedly in January, and interim president and CEO Anthony Hull.
- Derby joins the franchisee as it works to improve profitability by instituting menu increases, partaking in promotional initiatives, such as Burger King’s Reclaim the Flame program, and improving operations and guest experiences.
Derby, who has served as an independent director of the company since June 2018, brings over two decades of experience in consumer-focused companies to Carrols.
She is currently a board member at Henry Schein and was chief administrative officer at The Children’s Place for six months in 2021, according to her LinkedIn profile. She served in various leadership positions at Toys “R” Us for nearly 15 years from 2000 to 2015. From 2016 to 2020, she was president of Horizon Group USA, a wholesaler of craft components and activity kits.
“We are confident that we have identified an exemplary individual with the skills and experience necessary to lead Carrols and complement the strong management and restaurant operations team we have in place at the Company,” David Harris, Carrols’ chairman of the board, said in a statement.
As part of Carrols' push for improved profitability, the company increased menu prices at its Burger King restaurants by 4.1% in 2021 and 9.4% in 2022, according to the company’s annual report. Carrols is becoming much more daring with its pricing tiers, refining them based on geography and local market conditions, Hull said during the company’s February earnings call. Carrols is also focusing on finding an ideal mix of promotions and discounts across its channels to meet its guests’ needs for value. In general, the company has reduced discounting over the past few quarters, which has helped improve revenue growth.
Carrols also increased hours of operation by 3% in its Burger King units and by 4% at its Popeyes restaurants compared to the year-ago period, Hull said during the call. The labor environment has improved, with turnover easing and application volume rising above pre-COVID-19 levels. The franchisee will continue to add operating hours, particularly during the late-night daypart, where appropriate.
Even with price hikes, guest experience scores improved during the fourth quarter by 25% at Carrols’ Burger King restaurants, Hull said, adding that its managers and team members will continue to focus on consistency in its operations to help improve guest satisfaction.
Comparable sales at Carrols’ Burger Kings restaurants were up 6.2% during the fourth quarter, which included a 13.3% increase in average check that was partially offset by a 6.2% decline in traffic, Gretta Miles, Carrols’ controller and assistant treasurer, said during the February call.