MacKenzie will join the company on 6 June to oversee the group's next stage of growth, from digital transformation including the growth of the loyalty app to restaurant refurbishment.
It comes after David Campbell stepped down from the role in October last year. Since then, managing director Zoe Bowley and CFO Jo Bennett have overseen the role jointly, reporting directly to group chairman Allan Leighton.
“We are delighted that Paula will join the PizzaExpress team as CEO, she has a terrific track record of performance and importantly is a champion of equality, diversity, and inclusion,” says Leighton.
“I would like to thank Zoe Bowley and Jo Bennett for jointly leading the business during this interim period. Paula is joining at an exciting time for PizzaExpress and will work with our leadership team to drive priorities for growth, including an increased customer focus led by rapid digital transformation.”
MacKenzie left her role as managing director at KFC UK & Ireland back in March after five years in the job.
She has more than 20 years’ experience in the food and drink industry, including former roles at Diageo, GSK and Innocent. She also worked for Yum! Brands for 11 years in a range of senior roles, including chief finance officer, chief development officer and chief marketing officer.
“As someone who thrives on bringing brands to life, I’m thrilled to be working with Allan and the whole team at PizzaExpress leading this brand and business through its next chapter of growth,” she says.
“I cannot wait to get started and look forward to personally welcoming customers into our restaurants at a time where we are all reconnecting with the magic of eating out.”