Quick-service restaurant chain Nando’s has named a new leader for its Australia and New Zealand business, following the departure of longtime CEO Craig Mason on Friday.
Amanda Banfield will join the company on June 8 from Cadbury/Mondelez International, where she has worked for the past 30 years, most recently as president of Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
Banfield brings strong brand and multichannel experience and enterprise leadership skills, putting her in a great position to lead Nando’s in its next stage of growth, Mason said.
Reflecting on his nine years at the helm of the chicken chain, Mason said he was most proud of the people-focused initiatives he helped introduce, such as the ‘Life & Soul’ tour, which rewards staff across the business who go above and beyond to bring the company’s values to life by taking them on a weeklong trip to Southern Africa, Nando’s birthplace.
He also helped turn the Master Griller program into an annual competition with more than 400 competitors to upskill staff on how to cook Nando’s core product, flame-grilled chicken, in a fun way. Originating in Australia, the program is now global and crowns an international winner.
“Internally there’s a saying ‘Nando’s is not just about the chicken. It’s never been just about the chicken. It’s about the people who make the chicken’,” Mason said.
“During my time at Nando’s I made it my mission to bring this to life and create a culture where we put people before profit, knowing if we have a happy and engaged workforce, the results will come.”
Mason credits his focus on cultural transformation to being able to attract the right talent, which he says has contributed to healthy growth for the business.
The company is now enjoying a third year of nearly double-digit like-for-like sales growth, and has low staff turnover of 40 per cent, compared to the industry average of 60 per cent.
Mason also oversaw the rollout of a new loyalty program, which was recently named the Loyalty Program of the Year at the 2020 Retailer Awards, and the integration of Nando’s with third-party platforms, Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Menulog.
Mason said the decision to leave was incredibly difficult, but he would like to spend more time with his young family. He is looking for another role, but still exploring his options.
“I know I want another CEO role, ideally with a bit less international travel, so I can spend more time at home,” he said.