Famous Players on a fast-food Chase

Former Pizza Hut exec named new prexy/COO

MONTREAL — Confirming the close ties between movie exhibitors and fast-food companies, Canuck exhibitor Famous Players has tapped former Pizza Hut exec Robb Chase as the new president and chief operating officer of the Viacom-owned, Toronto-based company. Chase takes over the job from John Bailey, who has been upped to the position of chairman and CEO of Famous Players.

The moves reflect Famous Players’ shift away from building new movie palaces and into a period of trying to maximize its investment in its existing buildings, per execs at the company. Bailey will continue to be responsible for film buying, while Chase will look after the day-to-day management of Famous Players. Chase will be paying particular attention to expanding and fine-tuning the movie-theater chain’s branded concession business.

Management experience

Chase spent several years in various senior management positions with Pepsico, including stints as vice president of marketing for Pizza Hut Intl. and president of Pizza Hut Canada. When Pepsico spun off its holdings in Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell into a separate company, Tricon Global Restaurants, in 1997, Chase was named region vice president of the Americas, managing the franchised businesses in Canada and Latin America. Most recently, he was senior veepee of international franchising for Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell.

“Robb brings a great depth of knowledge and skill to our company, especially in the food service industry,” said Bailey. “Our company has been especially successful with the innovations we have introduced in the sale of branded concessions, including Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, an area in which he has considerable experience. His arrival will further strengthen our senior management team as we consolidate our circuit’s business activities and wrap up with the largest expansion in our history.”

Bailey has been president of Famous Players since 1997. Before that, he was chief operating officer and, prior to that, served as executive vice president.

Pulling focus

Chase said he will be focusing on all aspects of Famous Players’ activities, not just concessions.

“We’re doing millions of transactions annually,” said Chase. “It’s very similar to the complexity of restaurant operations. … The food-service side is very important to Famous Players, and I come with a fair amount of experience in that. But I also have a fair amount of marketing experience.”

Famous Players, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, has 107 locations with 856 screens across Canada, including theaters in its joint venture with giant-screen company Imax and an arthouse chain in partnership with Alliance Atlantis.

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