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A&W vet plans to accelerate growth, in Executive Ladder


Paul Martino

Ahead of its 100th anniversary celebration this year, A&W Restaurants promoted longtime exec Paul Martino to the dual role of president and chief operating officer of its U.S. business. He’s been with the company more than 20 years, first joining in 1991 and returning 20 years later after a group of franchisees acquired the company from Yum Brands.

Martino said this won’t be a significant change in his day-to-day responsibilities. Rather, he characterized the change as an acceleration of the company’s ongoing growth strategy that has culminated in 54 new locations opened during the last five years.

To prepare for this faster growth, A&W is opening a training center outside of its Lexington, Kentucky, headquarters that will provide more substantial education for its new and existing franchise partners.

“Opening up new restaurants is not for the faint of heart, and the first couple years are really critical to the long-term success of those restaurants,” Martino said. “That’s a way for us to help our franchise partners get off to a good start and make sure they’re around for the long haul.”

Looking ahead, he expects A&W to open an additional 15 restaurants during 2019, with a medium-term goal of reaching 20 to 25 new locations within the next few years. The Upper Midwest states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota will be a particular focus, as well as the Pacific Northwest.

“What’s the next 100 years going to look like, not just the next three or five years?” Martino added. “Of course we have three- and five-year plans as everyone does, but it’s making sure we’re positioned for the long term—that’s exciting and it’s a very fortunate situation.”

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