Sbarro, the world's largest Italian mall-focused restaurant franchise, announced that it has appointed two industry leaders to spearhead continued franchise growth, both domestically and overseas.

In the midst of an aggressive revitalization effort that has gotten off the ground running, Sbarro, with more than 1,000 restaurants in 40 countries, announced the hiring of Eric Taylor to a newly created role of vice president of international franchise development, and has appointed Dave Gleason as vice president of franchise development to lead the growth of franchisees in North America.

“We are committed to investing in the brand worldwide and see tremendous opportunity for our franchise development system in the United States and across the globe,” says James Greco, president and CEO of Sbarro. “By bringing on seasoned restaurant franchise executives such as Eric and Dave, we are laying the groundwork for our evolving brand.”

Taylor has worked in the international franchise world since 1999, starting with Franchise Development Services, based in Norwich, England. Prior positions include vice president of worldwide franchise development for Bennigan’s Franchising Company and as a consultant for TR Global Management Group representing Applebee’s. His international experience includes the sale of master franchises in Mexico, Europe, India, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. In his new position, Taylor will oversee, identify, and award franchises to qualified, top-tier candidates worldwide.

Gleason brings a wealth of experience to Sbarro, with more than 30 years in the quick-service industry in both an operations and franchise development capacity. He has worked with brand leaders in the industry such as Dunkin’ Brands, Haagen-Dazs, Manchu WOK, and Jamba Juice and was responsible for the development of the brands in a traditional and nontraditional segment on a national perspective. While working in this capacity, he identified and developed “green field” markets, introduced new design formats to enable speed to market, and consistently achieved successful high performing new unit growth.

Throughout the remainder of 2012, Sbarro will continue to grow with 60 new domestic and international openings planned. In addition, the company will be introducing a new pizza recipe in the fall, and a new prototype restaurant model will be unveiled early next year.

Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Employee Management, News, Sbarro