- Firehouse Subs, which was acquired by Restaurant Brands International for $1 billion in November, has hired Mike Hancock as COO, the chain announced Wednesday. Hancock will step into the role in April, which has been empty for 13 years. Current CEO Don Fox held the role in 2009 before his promotion to company head.
- Hancock previously served as COO of Tim Hortons, and was the head of Burger King's North America field and business operations.
- As COO, Hancock will be tasked with growing Firehouse's technology and expanding the chain's reach in North America through franchise deals, and will also oversee quality assurance and real estate, Nation's Restaurant News reports.
Hancock's business experience at major RBI chains could help build on the sandwich chain's recent sales success.
Firehouse's 2021 same-store sales rose 20.9% over 2020, driven in part by digital sales, which totaled $10 billion last year at all of RBI's brands combined — up $4 billion from 2020 performance. Global digital sales make up roughly 30% of systemwide sales, RBI CEO Jose Cil said during the restaurant company's Q4 2021 earnings call.
These digital gains follow Firehouse's investment in a point-of-sales upgrade prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a new app developed by technology firm NCR to bolster its ordering experience. RBI could also roll out its suggestive selling technology, which is deployed at Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes restaurants, to Firehouse drive-thrus to bolster off-premise business.
"Adding an RBI veteran with Hancock's extensive experience greatly enhances our ability to accelerate the growth of Firehouse Subs in North America, while continuing our tradition of operational excellence and guest satisfaction, with an increased focus on our off-premises and digital channels of trade," Firehouse CEO Don Fox told Nation's Restaurant News.
Hancock is Firehouse's first new C-suite level hire in 11 years, since Vince Burchianti was promoted to CFO in 2011. Building out Firehouse's leadership could prepare the company for domestic and international growth — Cil said on the Q4 earnings call that RBI is "shifting the brand's unit growth into high gear in the coming years."
Last year, the chain added 11 restaurants to its North American network and eight to its international markets, bringing its store total to 1,164 units in the U.S. and 49 units in international markets. By contrast, Popeyes, which was acquired by RBI in 2017, opened 254 new stores last year and has 3,705 total global stores.
"While Firehouse Subs already has a growing digital presence, we see further opportunities to add more guest options and benefits and transport the brand's digital experience across borders," Cil said on the earnings call.