New management team for Vapiano International

Vapiano's new CEO: Alan Laughlin.
Vapiano's new CEO: Alan Laughlin.

The new Vapiano owners, the Love & Food Restaurant Holding will fill CEO, COO and other management positions. The new CEO will be Alan Laughlin, while Monika Czyz will head the Operations division as COO. The team is completed by Hassan Mechmechani, Chief Franchising and Development Officer, Pawel Szczepaniak, CIO for Information Technology & Digital, and Alexander Eberl, Vice President of Mergers & Acquisitions.

For Vapiano, the buyer consortium Love & Food Restaurant Holding relies on internationally successful foodservice specialists in the first management level. Alan Laughlin is appointed as Vapiano CEO. Alan Laughlin has many years of experience in leading international quickservice and casual dining brands in Europe and the USA. Most recently, he was President of Burger King for Amrest. According to Love & Food, Laughlin has "exactly the skills needed in a people's business like food service": thinking big, always being curious and putting people first.

New quintet at the top

Within the international Vapiano Group Laughlin is supported by the recently appointed COO Monika Czyz. Czyz was most recently president of Pizza Hut near Amrest, which has over 440 restaurants across Europe. Hassan Mechmechani will be responsible for International Franchising and Development. He brings enormous Vapiano know-how as well as a lot of experience in international business.

CIO Paweł Szczepaniak will focus on data-driven, personalized, digital innovations for guests in the restaurants as well as in the take-away area. His experience with digital transformation initiatives should enable the use of digital Vapiano functions worldwide. Alexander Eberl, who completes the management quintet, will be responsible for future growth as Vice President of Mergers & Acquisitions. He has many years of experience as a "dealmaker" and, as a networker, enjoys first-class contacts in the entire industry, according to a press release.

New restaurant formats in view

The team will be supported at the start by Mario C. Bauer, who will continue to be involved in the day-to-day business as a shareholder, brand ambassador and important strategic partner. Bauer on the new leadership team: "My personal motto is that I only want to work with people with whom I would also go on vacation. With Alan, Monika, Hassan, Paweł and Alexander this is exactly the case. I have known all five of them for many years and know their extraordinary expertise."

Alan Laughlin adds: "Having known Mario for several years, I knew that our values, our vision and our goal of 'bringing fun into life' were one and the same. Together we want to offer delicious food and values for our guests, franchisees and Vapianisti. Today more than ever, customers want to order, pay and consume food and drinks on their own terms. We will therefore accelerate and improve our digital guest experience and create new restaurant formats.

Plans for 2021

For the coming year, the new management team has set itself major goals. "We want to inspire our guests worldwide and thus herald a new era of Vapiano. Especially in times of the Covid 19 pandemic, this is our most important endeavor to ensure long-term success," explains CEO Laughlin. Other points that the team will be pushing forward include strengthening franchise partnerships.

Furthermore, Vapiano wants to improve and expand its efforts in the area of digitalization as well as delivery and take-away services. In addition, the fast-casual concept is working on innovative design elements to meet the needs and wishes of guests.
About Vapiano and Love&Food
Vapiano was founded in Hamburg in 2002. As one of the few German gastronomy concepts, it initially recorded growth and success worldwide. In its prime there were more than 230 restaurants worldwide. Also an absolute exception for a German restaurant company: Going public in 2017, issue price 23 euros. But the years that followed were mixed: rapid but expensive worldwide expansion, operational problems and, with increasing sales, ever higher losses (more than 100 million euros in the 2018 financial year), falling share prices. At the beginning of 2020, the share is quoted below 2 euros, then  the pandemic trikes. In April Vapiano SE files for insolvency, in August the company is taken off the stock exchange.

The new owner, Love & Food Restaurant Holding s.r.o. was founded by a hand-picked group of European restaurateurs and hoteliers: Henry McGovern, co-founder and former long-time CEO of the Amrest Restaurant Group; Sinclair Beecham, co-founder of Pret a Manger; Vincent van der Valk, leading Dutch hotelier and exclusive Vapiano area developer for the Netherlands and Belgium; Gregor Gerlach, Vapiano co-founder and owner of the Seaside Hotel Group and Mario C. Bauer, former board member of Vapiano and serial entrepreneur. All shareholders have made it their mission to return Vapiano to its place among the leading European fast-casual dining concepts.