Sabir Sami - President of Yum! Canada

Date: MAY 2nd, 2012

Topic: Interview with a CEO

When it comes to building brands and leading companies to success, Sabir Sami, president of Yum! Canada is at the top of his game.


With more than 20 years in consumer goods management, working in world leading companies including Yum! Canada, Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Reckitt Benckiser, Sami’s experienced the business from all angles — marketing, operations and general management.


Sami’s international experience includes Australia, Pakistan and Singapore before coming to Canada in 2003.


BeTheBoss: Tell us about the Pizza Hut concept.

Sabir Sami: The new express delivery and take out models cost less than traditional Pizza Hut restaurants and feature a fiery new design concept.

They typically require between 900 and 1,200 square feet of occupancy space and are equipped with back-of-house equipment systems, including hotter-than-ever high speed pizza ovens to create Pizza Hut’s famous pan pizzas, stuffed crusts and Tuscani oven-baked pastas, as well as fryers to prepare WingStreet wings.


BTB: How and when did you become involved with Yum! Canada?

SS: I joined the Yum! team in 2009. Both KFC and Pizza Hut had achieved international success and I saw strong potential to emulate the success for both brands in Canada.


BTB: What was your background prior to joining Yum! Canada?

SS: When it comes to consumer goods management, I suppose you could say I’m a lifer! Prior to joining Yum!, I had the good fortune to work with some of the world’s leading consumer goods companies including P&G, Coke and Reckitt Benckiser — always in a marketing, operations or general management capacity.


BTB: What are some of the advantages of being a Pizza Hut franchisee?

SS: As part of the Yum! Restaurants International family, Pizza Hut franchisees have the full support of our multi-national, success-driven team. They can leverage the marketing and operational know-how of a strong global company that has more than 13,000 franchised restaurants around the globe. We are able to pull from the best practices of our Pizza Hut business across the globe, which we see as a key advantage for us here in Canada.

In Canada, the Yum! franchise system leverages national, regional and local marketing campaigns, a multi-million dollar marketing budget, exciting menu items, system-wide purchasing power, and much more.


BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee?

SS: The ideal franchisee is someone with strong entrepreneurial spirit, industry know-how and a passion for pizza. The restaurant business is very hands-on. We’re looking for franchisees that are committed to growing a successful business and ready to devote time and energy to do so.


BTB: Tell us a little about the pizza market?

SS: In Canada, the QSR industry is growing at +3%. Within QSR, the QSR Pizza Category is worth $2.5 Billion and represents a 12% share (source: The NPD Group, Crest Data YE Aug’11). 90% of Canadians eat Pizza at least once a month (Source: Technomic, 2011)


BTB: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?

SS: I think the greatest lesson I’ve learned is that it does take hard work and commitment BUT if you’re willing to put in hard work, the rewards can be incredible. Many of our franchisees become multi-unit operators very quickly.


BTB: Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?

SS: I’ve been lucky to have had great managers throughout my international career — all of them teaching me invaluable lessons and helping me to shape my own management style.


BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a franchise?

SS: My advice for someone looking to acquire a franchise would be to do your research first. And do a lot of it!

First, make sure it’s something that you are passionate about. You’re going to be spending a lot of time selling your product or service – make sure it’s something that you love.

Second, familiarize yourself with the head office and corporate support system. Are they committed to helping you grow your business? Will they provide marketing and operations support? Do they hold frequent franchisee meetings to ensure that the brand is being well represented across the country?


BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that Pizza Hut would be a great opportunity for someone?

SS: When you join the Pizza Hut team, you join the Yum! family. And like any strong family, we are committed to looking out for one-another and helping each other succeed. At Yum!, we believe that building and sustaining strong relationships with franchisees is key in driving excellence and growing profitable businesses and so we work very hard to develop strong relationships with our franchisees.