Kmart turnaround king takes chairman's post at GYG

Guy Russo takes the chairman's helm at Guzman y Gomez

Guy Russo on stage
Guy Russo on stage

Kmart turnaround chief and retail industry icon, Guy Russo, has become the new chairman of QSR, Guzman y Gomez.

Russo, who has been on the board of GYG since 2014, has been working with the business over its recent years of expansion. It’s work that’s seen GYG launch a day part menu strategy, a new range of healthy kids meals, and secure $44 million in investment from TDM Growth Partners. The group now has plans to open another 15 restaurants across Australia in 2019, as well as further its international footprint.

In a statement, Russo said GYG had been on a “remarkable” journey since first launching in Newtown in 2006.

“I’ve been fortunate to have been involved for much of this time and anticipate an exciting future as we pursue a mission to reinvent food,” he said. “We’ll be seeing more of the exciting food and culture that GYG has become renowned for along with some category-defining work in menu and restaurant innovations over the next 12 months.

“I can’t wait to be involved with the whole team, from robust leadership to our energetic crew in-store, as we take GYG to the next level.”

Russo has spent many years in retail, experience that culminated in strong commercial success when he was tasked in 2008 with turning Wesfarmers’ Kmart brand around. Having helped make Kmart one of Australia’s most successful department stores, Russo then became CEO of the newly created Department Stores division overseeing both Kmart and Target.

Russo retired from the CEO role in August last year but continues as a senior advisor to Wesfarmers for the rest of the 2019 financial year.

GYG founder and global CEO, Steven Marks, said Russo is one of the most dynamic and successful retail executives in Australia, “if not the world”.

“He’s one of the most astute board members I’ve seen,” he commented. “As chairman, he will have high expectations of both board and management to deliver across all aspects of governance and the business.”

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