hospitalitytoday.com | 15 Mark Fox – CEO of Bill’s An “accidental career in food” described at Arena’s Summer Event Mark Fox, CEO of Bill’s Restaurants, took the podium at Arena’s Summer Event at Jumeirah Carlton Tower. Fox gave a brief overview of his career so far. His career began at university when he combined his love of cars and pizza to become a delivery driver to help pay his rent. It wasn’t long before he was managing his own multi-unit franchise. After a career hiatus in the computer industry he returned to food as a district manager at KFC in 1996 in Northern England, with eight restaurant managers reporting to him. He resigned after twelve months, finding the company culture lacking. His career with Yum! took him to Europe, where he worked in operations and franchising and learned an awful lot about business. Back in the UK, some six years later, Fox was briefly courted by Restaurant Associates before being enticed back to Yum! as MD of Pizza Hut Delivery, where he successfully returned the business to growth and managed the sale of the dine- in restaurants to Rutland Partners. Starbucks, a business that Fox admired, then came knocking, with the opportunity to run Starbucks UK. Fox had nine interviews in 23 hours, including one with founder Howard Shultz. As MD of Starbucks UK, he took the business from being in loss to a profit of £35million in the first year. Fox said Starbucks were constantly innovating – lots of ideas were put into practice, to see which ones worked – even odd ones like no signs to the toilets, which meant asking the staff: an “opportunity to engage”. With the UK business ‘fixed’, Starbucks wanted to incorporate it into one of its four regions. Not wanting to go overseas again, Mark looked for his next move and discovered Bill’s Restaurants.