Popeyes has announced that Richard “Dick” H. Lynch, the company's Chief Brand Officer, will step down following the close of the acquisition of Popeyes by Restaurant Brands International, Inc. During nine years with the company, Lynch has been the architect of Popeyes Louisiana brand transformation, which was the foundation for the turnaround at Popeyes.
After choosing to leave Popeyes, Lynch has continued to work closely with the incoming leadership team to ensure marketing and brand continuity through the transition. He has been heavily involved in the development of Popeyes' marketing succession plan including the selection process for its new chief marketing officer.
"Dick has been a catalyst for Popeyes' remarkable growth over the past nine years," said Cheryl Bachelder, former CEO of Popeyes. "His relentless focus on creating a product that our guests crave, coupled with his ability to recognize and develop talent at the restaurant support center, have been invaluable to the success of the brand."
During Lynch's tenure at Popeyes, the share price has moved from $7.55 to the purchase price of $79, an increase of 946%. His decision to transform the Popeyes brand by focusing on Louisiana Heritage as a differentiator has shaped every aspect of the business including culinary innovation, marketing, advertising, employee experience, guest experience, communications and investor relations, becoming the engine for its business success.
"The health of the Popeyes brand, along with sustainable Louisiana brand differentiation, led by Dick and his team, were among the factors that drew our attention to Popeyes," said Daniel Schwartz, CEO of Restaurant Brands International. "Lynch leaves behind a legacy of success and growth. He and his team have laid a firm foundation upon which the brand can continue to grow for years to come."
When Lynch first began with Popeyes, he set out to reenergize the brand by immersing it in the rich culinary heritage of Louisiana, introducing an aggressive calendar of product innovation that resulted in the introduction of 33 new products all directly tied to that heritage. This immediate redefinition of the brand served as the all-important foundation for Popeyes’ record growth over the next nine years in which the share price closed at an all-time high despite turbulence in the QSR industry.
Throughout his years at Popeyes, Lynch assembled a stellar team of marketing and advertising experts and used his keen eye for talent to elevate those already in the Popeyes system whose skills had been underutilized. Together, Lynch and his team created a national marketing strategy featuring the now iconic Popeyes' spokesperson, Annie, a move which, coupled with a nearly 300% increase in advertising spend, bolstered the brand image. Today Annie stands as one of the most recognizable promotional personalities in television advertising.
During this time, the Popeyes brand has also achieved the following:
- Eight consecutive years of same-store sales growth
- Top line annual unit volumes (AUVs) have increased by 45% from $1 million to $1.45 million
- Guest satisfaction has jumped nearly 10%
- The Popeyes system has grown from 1,860 locations to nearly 2,700 in 2016
- A share price increase from $7.55 to the purchase price of $79.00
"When I was first approached about joining the Popeyes team, it was clear that the brand's history and heritage were underleveraged," said Lynch. "There was a significant opportunity to claim a space that even then we knew would elevate the brand. It was a transformative strategy that turned Popeyes into an unstoppable force, building quarter after quarter of same-store sales increases even while the economy struggled. It has been my distinct pleasure to work with the Popeyes leadership team in this ambitious endeavor and I look forward to my next venture."