PizzaExpress has appointed Paula MacKenzie as its new CEO, following the departure of David Campbell in October last year.

MacKenzie, who left her role as managing director at KFC UK & Ireland in March this year, will join PizzaExpress on 6 June.

She has more than 20 years’ experience in the food and drink industry, including former roles at Diageo, GSK and Innocent.

She worked for Yum! Brands for 11 years in a range of senior roles, including chief finance officer, chief development officer and chief marketing officer, before spending five years as MD at KFC.

MacKenzie will lead the 10,000-strong team at PizzaExpress on the next stage of its growth – from digital transformation to restaurant refurbishments.

Allan Leighton chairman of PizzaExpress said: “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.

“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.”

Paula MacKenzie said: “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.”