Interview: Neil Williamson, Popeyes UK | Global Franchise
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Thursday 26th May, 2022

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Interview: Neil Williamson, Popeyes UK

Insight

Interview: Neil Williamson, Popeyes UK

The newly appointed COO for Popeyes UK is enthusiastic about the brand’s upcoming Blighty launch

The newly appointed COO for Popeyes UK is enthusiastic about the brand’s upcoming Blighty launch.

GF: What does success look like to you?

NW: I’m a big believer in people. I started out my career working in McDonald’s behind the till and promptly fell in love with QSR – and what I’ve learned as my career has progressed and my roles have evolved is that investing in people is what makes your business.

All brands sell a different product in perhaps a slightly different manner, but ultimately, the most important ingredient is always people.

Success will naturally follow if you nurture and take care of your teams. People join you from all different walks of life, for a huge variety of reasons – it could be a stepping stone for one team member, and a ‘forever job’ for another. But recognizing what each individual wants and meeting those needs will make the brand successful.

I like to think of success from the perspective of days, weeks and months, analyzing monthly success levels through our team smile measurement – which will be a legitimate metric for us at Popeyes UK – and customer feedback.

On any given day in QSR, though, success is seeing customers and team members happy with their experience. Seeing people leaving your restaurant visibly pleased, and sensing that the team has come together to really nail service and has had a good time doing it – that’s success to me.

GF: What excites you most about bringing Popeyes to the U.K.?

NW: With Popeyes, it really falls into two camps – for anyone that’s been to the U.S., there’s that real recognition of the stature and the cult status of the brand. So when discussing bringing it to the U.K., you either get people from that camp, who are incredibly excited about its arrival, or you get met with ‘what’s Popeyes?’. There doesn’t tend to be an in-between.

“There are 900 KFCs in the U.K., but no major competitor in that space. We’re looking forward to disrupting that”

For those already established fans that love us, it’s brilliant to be able to present that opportunity – and the prospect of converting those that don’t know us into lifelong customers is equally exciting to us.

There’s been an explosion in the burger/meat category in the U.K., but chicken hasn’t really moved on in QSR in the same way. There are 900 KFCs in the U.K., but no major competitor in that space. We’re looking forward to disrupting that.

GF: What inspires you in your career and personal life?

NW: In my career, nurturing and developing talent and helping people to achieve their ambitions really inspires me. Setting a goal as a team and achieving it is an unbeatable experience in the workplace; I love seeing and feeling the team motivating one another and pushing to reach the finish line together.

In my personal life, I have two young boys who both play football. Seeing them be part of that, and watching them inspire their own teams, brings me an immense sense of pride.

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