On honesty, integrity, and growth.
QSR Media: What makes you excited about your position?
Lara Thom: Once you’ve spoken to founder Steven Marks and CEO Mark Hawthorne, it’s hard not to drink the GYG cool aid as they have put together an incredible team to bring the GYG vision to life. The combination of agility, expertise and experience of the management team definitely excited me about the role. GYG is operating differently in the QSR market, the team genuinely believe in making quality food at speed that isn’t packed full of preservatives and typical scary ingredients that you would see in other fast food chains. I’m a Mum of five and even I have a couple of kids who are allergic to all types of preservatives so I also have a vested interest in wanting to make fast food healthier for our kids. GYG is a disruptive, challenger brand, it feeds a hunger I have to succeed and create game changing global brands.
QSR Media: What are your key business philosophies?
Lara Thom: It may seem simple and like common sense but honesty and integrity in business are of utmost importance to me and it’s amazing how successful you can be if you stick to those two things, it was easy to see from the outset that GYG also believes in both.
QSR Media: What three goals are you focused on?
Lara Thom: Guzman y Gomez is in a phenomenal growth phase and yet our brand story hasn’t really been fully exploited as yet. We have experienced franchisees who know how to run restaurants and deliver quality. Telling the stories behind the counter of how GYG brings food to our customers through compelling content is certainly a big focus. We’re also launching a number of NPD projects which will introduce a new audience to GYG with even healthier options. We’re also investing heavily in digital, technology and loyalty, our app is a major focus because our customers are so engaged with it, we’ll never stop innovating with our app or in the digital space.
QSR Media: What long-term changes are you planning on?
Lara Thom: I don’t think I need to change a lot, the GYG brand has a phenomenal cult following, especially with millennials. There are brands who dream to have that level of loyalty. My role is to take what has been built and amplify GYG to a larger audience. That will come in the form of rapidly expanding our footprint in real estate which is already happening and capitalising on the army of GYG brand advocates who literally sell the GYG brand to their friends.
Longer term, the team are obviously focusing on global growth and taking the brand into new markets and I’m looking forward being involved in our international footprint.
QSR Media: What previous positions have prepared you for this one and how?
Lara Thom: I am eternally grateful for the career I have had to date. I started my career working in my parent’s restaurant as a teenager so just understanding those basics have given me a really solid understanding of GYG’s front line. Owning my own businesses such as L’il Fraser Collection and being the MD of Be.Interactive & Be Retail taught me the basics about running business day to day and profitability but also about rolling your sleeves up and getting a bit dirty from time to time. No one is too precious or important to do the hard yards.
I also learnt a lot about founder led companies when Be Interactive was part of the Photon group. There is a different level of thinking in founder led companies, a beautiful mix of unwaivering optimism and risk combined with a determination that is unstoppable. I will always be grateful for the time I spent at Vittoria Food & Beverage, I probably learnt more there than any other role I have had. Obviously the exposure I had to the thousands of restaurants they work with but Vittoria’s strategic approach to everything they do is unrivalled. The focus, competitive edge, commitment to quality and attention to detail needed to maintain the No 1 position in your category for such a long time against emerging start-ups and competitors should never be understated.
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