Church’s Chicken’s board of directors announced the appointment of Mel Deane as the company’s CEO, effective immediately. For the last 10 years, Deane has worked closely with many of the companies owned by Friedman, Fleischer & Lowe (FFL), a San Francisco–based private equity company and owner of Church’s. He has held senior leadership positions in many of their portfolio companies, most recently as CEO of Discovery Foods, the leading manufacturer of Asian-branded frozen foods.

Since August, Deane has been executive vice president and general manager of U.S. Operations for Church’s Chicken. In this role, he has accelerated operational and marketing improvements as well as product development.

Deane replaces Harsha Agadi as CEO. Agadi will remain involved with the company as an active member of the board of directors. The board expressed its appreciation for Agadi’s tireless commitment to the brand and for his many years of dedicated service to the company.

“There is no better time to build enterprise value and grow a company than now, when others are cutting back due to difficult economic conditions,” says David Lowe, founding partner of FFL. “Mel Deane is a true ‘value builder’ who focuses relentlessly on the consumer. He did it at Discovery Foods, and we are confident that he will do it again with Church’s Chicken.”

“As I have gotten to know the people at Church’s—including their highly successful network of franchisees—I believe they aspire to become the most respected and admired brand in their quick-service restaurant segment,” Deane says.

Deane met with the board of the Church’s Independent Franchise Association (CIFA) to describe his vision for their continued growth and success. “We have already welcomed Mel Deane to the Church’s Chicken ‘family,’ and we applaud his new leadership role,” says Lyndon Johnson, CIFA president.

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