Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Gibbons Helps Burger King Regain `the Quality Ethic'

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Gibbons Helps Burger King Regain `the Quality Ethic'

Article excerpt

Associated Press

MIAMI _ Barry Gibbons says Burger King's flameoiled Whopper is here to stay, but the British boss of the perennial No. 2 in fast food also endorses one of its old advertising slogans: "Sometimes you've gotta break the rules."

Gibbons has run Burger King for Grand Metropolitan PLC since it bought the chain as part of the Pillsbury Inc. takeover in 1989. He's reformed the 6,400-restaurant, 43-country operation, which had grown sloppy and stale. There are 13 Burger King restuarants in the Oklahoma City area.

"It's my kind of job _ openart surgery. I love going in deep into what I call the structural problems," said Gibbons, 46, chief executive officer and chairman. "It's the biggest transition in our history."

Gibbons was given the title of chairman Monday, succeeding Ian Martin, who is chief operating officer and group managing director of Grand Met. James B. Adamson, president of Burger King's USA Retail Division, was named Monday to the title of chief operating officer, worldwide.

Under Pillsbury's ownership, the 38-yeard chain founded in Miami had lost what Gibbons calls "the quality ethic."

It went through five presidents in 10 years, alienated franchise holders and became the butt of jokes for deadd ad campaigns.

"Burger King had a lot of these kind of things _ deepated injuries that weren't really evident. They were hurting. They were limping, but on the surface it looked OK," he said in an interview. "We really had to go down deep."

Things were so bad that some franchisees feared Grand Met, a food and liquor retailer with $15 billion in 1991 sales, planned to sell.

"I guess we've talked about selling Burger King for, you want the honest truth, four minutes. People don't understand how proud we are of what's been achieved here," said Gibbons.

In his 3 yearnure, Gibbons improved Burger King's basics on cleanliness and service, dumped franchisees who didn't fit the revitalized image and cut 850 managers to save money.

Operating profits were up 13 percent to $85 million in the six months ended March 31 from $75 million the year before. Sales at stores open more than a year were up 3 percent, and 1991 sales at both corporate and franchise owned restaurants totaled $6. …

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