- Tom Curtis, who most recently served as executive vice president, U.S. operations and support at Domino's, will join Burger King Americas as its chief operating officer in mid-May, according to a press release.
- Curtis, who has 35 years of industry experience, will oversee field operations, restaurant development and restaurant operations. He began his career in the QSR industry in 1985 as a Domino's store manager, and became a franchisee in 1987. He joined Domino's corporate office in 2006.
- Burger King's COO appointment comes at a critical time for the brand, which posted an 11.1% drop in systemwide sales and a nearly 8% decrease in comparable sales last year following declines in its breakfast and late-night dayparts during the pandemic.
Curtis will take the operational reigns at Burger King following a year of transformations. In 2020, the chain launched a visual identity with new color-schemed packaging and logo, revisited its value offerings and improved product quality by removing artificial flavors and preservatives from its Whopper. The company has removed artificial flavors and preservatives from 85% of its products and is now on its way to reaching 100% of its items within the next few months, Jose Cil, CEO of parent company Restaurant Brands International, said during its Q4 2020 earnings call.
One of the biggest changes Curtis will oversee is occurring at the drive-thru. The company expects to modernize 10,000 Burger King drive-thrus by 2022 with digital screens that offer predictive selling technology, integrate with loyalty programs and offer remote, contactless payment options.
Burger King also began testing a loyalty program in February, with plans to roll it out nationwide. At the end of 2020, it debuted its first Google integration, allowing customers to search for the nearest location, order and pay.
Curtis' franchising expertise will likely be particularly valuable, as will his experience with a delivery-centric restaurant brand. Burger King's franchisee profitability was down in 2020 due to sales declines from the pandemic, offset by financial support from the government that was used to help team members and staff, Cil said during the earnings call.
Delivery at Burger King is a key focus as the channel becomes a major growth driver, Josh Kobza, Restaurant Brands International's COO, said during the Q4 2020 earnings call. Delivery sales were up over two times as much last year compared to 2019 and digital sales represented 8% of total sales in the U.S. for Burger King, he said.
"Tom will be an important leader and asset in our journey to provide an exceptional guest experience at Burger King, including rapidly scaling our digital capabilities and offering a consistent and loved experience at our restaurants," Chris Finazzo, president of Burger King, Americas, said in the press release.