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‘Turn around champ’ to open World Travel Market 2012

‘Turn around champ’ to open World Travel Market 2012

Barry Gibbons, former CEO of the US-based Burger King Corporation - and the man dubbed the ‘Turn Around Champ’ - officially opens World Travel Market 2012, the leading global event for the travel industry, on Monday 5 November at ExCel London.

His will talk about creating and maintaining business in a phenomenally tough economic climate.

“Within a year of taking over the role of CEO of Burger King, Barry was opening two new restaurants a day around the world, attracting thousands of hungry travellers on a budget,” said Fiona Jeffery OBE, Chairman of World Travel Market.

“During five years as chief of one of the world’s leading fast food chains, he received international recognition for his outstanding business performance.”

When Gibbons took over running the US-based Burger King in 1989 as part of the Pillsbury Group by the UK company Grand Metropolitan, it was losing money with not one of its international businesses in a healthy state.


At the time, the average $1m annual profit a year compared dismally with their main rival of MacDonald’s $1.5million. Franchisees were earning poor profits and many restaurants were short staffed, dirty and badly in need of renovation.

Within four years, Gibbons made a pre-tax profit of $250m, trading positively in 55 countries.

At the time, Burger King also had no representation in the UK. He acquired the Wimpey brand and converted key outlets, giving them a solid platform for today’s thriving UK business.

In his first week in the job, he persuaded Burger King’s managers to view the business from a customer perspective – “a bad cup of coffee at the end of a meal is just as damaging as a bad advertising campaign”. 

Gibbons had been the former Chairman and Managing Director of Grand Metropolitan’s $1bn operation of 2,000 restaurants and pubs in Britain and Europe

“Getting through some of the worst economic times in living memory is uppermost in the industry’s minds right now, particularly in UK and Europe”, said Jeffery.

“We hope that World Travel Market can help play its part in connecting travel businesses, sectors and markets for mutual, sustainable benefit.

“Barry Gibbons was a businessman at the top of his game in a highly competitive global field”, added Jeffery. “As our Guest of Honour and as an excellent speaker, he will put a different and altogether fresh, innovative perspective on business. He will demonstrate to travel companies and the industry as a whole what can be learnt from managing a global brand as well as the challenges of franchising and brand consistencies in a global market.”

Fortune Magazine first gave Barry Gibbons the title of ‘Turnaround Champ’ after his phenomenal success in boosting Burger King’s fortunes. Gibbons retired in 1994 from Burger King aged just 44, largely because he prefers to build companies, not simply maintain them. He went on to become a successful entrepreneur and author.

He has written six business books, notably ‘If You Want to Make God Really Laugh, Show Him Your Business Plan’ containing what Gibbons considers to be the 101 Universal Laws of Business.

He has also given more than 250 speeches on four continents to some of the world’s most respected and successful companies.

“Barry’s experiences, anecdotes, humour and practical tips are as relevant today as they have ever been,” said Jeffery

“Barry believes in leading rather than managing; in the importance of energising a workforce; crucially ensuring that a brand personality runs throughout every aspect of an organisation; and developing a relationship with customers that goes beyond satisfaction.

“When a downturn hits hard, survival and future prosperity can depend on establishing or re-establishing a connection with all kinds of stakeholders. This is part of Barry Gibbons’ over riding business philosophy which we hope will help uplift and invigorate the industry in this highly challenging era.”

World Travel Market’s Opening Ceremony is on Monday 5 November, 11.30 am, Platinum Suite 3 and 4, ExCeL London.