Former McDonald's boss is hired as Honest Burgers new CEO

Honest Burgers has hired Thomas Kelly, a former executive from McDonald's and Costa Coffee, to guide the company through 'its next exciting phase of growth'.

Kelly has taken over the role from Frank Hayes, who joined the group in 2021 and steered the business through the pandemic and its aftermath.

Frank Hayes is departing Honest Burgers to explore new opportunities. The company's co-founder, Tom Barton, expressed gratitude for Hayes' work.

'[He] has tirelessly set the foundations for our next chapter of growth,' said Barton.

Thomas Kelly began his career as a graduate trainee at McDonald's and eventually became a vice president on the executive board in the UK.

He was later chief executive of McDonald's in Finland and Sweden, where he delivered seven consecutive quarters of sales growth and 40% EBITDA growth in three years.

Most recently, Thomas Kelly held the position of Global Executive Director at Costa Coffee.

He joins Honest Burgers off the back of its successful crowdfund last year, when it raised £3m to fund the launch of a quick-service burger concept based around its smashed burger, which cooks in less than two minutes.

Barton said: 'We're really excited about welcoming Thomas to the team – his experience in running restaurant businesses is as good as it gets, and he has delivered exceptional growth in his previous roles, which is exactly what we need to grow Honest Burgers.'

Kelly added: ‘Ultimately, I love running restaurants – from my first McDonald's site through to being responsible for hundreds of sites in the Nordics, it's always been about the people that make incredible experiences for customers.

'I have always admired Honest Burgers from afar, so the opportunity to help grow such a strong brand, with the best product in the category, was too good to miss.'

Honest Burgers was founded in 2011 and now operates 40 sites across the UK.

Spencer Skinner, managing partner at Active Partners, the investment firm which backs Honest Burgers, said: 'We are delighted that Thomas Kelly has agreed to become the new Honest Burgers CEO. He could have taken many different roles and his decision to join is a great testament to the strength of the Honest brand.

'His vision, energy and leadership skills are ideally suited to what the business needs at this stage of its journey. With Thomas at the helm, we are really excited about the potential the brand can achieve.'