Zaxby’s announces the appointment of Blake Bailey to chief financial officer for Zaxby’s Franchising, Inc (ZFI). Bailey succeeds Tony Townley, founding partner with Zach McLeroy, chief executive officer of ZFI.

Townley is relinquishing the title of CFO for his new title, executive vice president, in an effort to streamline the financial responsibilities of the business and the day-to-day decision-making process, as well as increase the collaboration and innovation of the management team.

“Blake’s contributions to this organization and our tremendous growth over the years are significant,” Townley says. “This promotion is well-deserved. We are extremely excited to have Blake join the executive team at Zaxby’s and believe his future contributions will only continue to help us realize strategic growth and business success for all our Zaxby’s family.”

During the past 11 years with the company, Bailey has been instrumental in several key initiatives, including leading ZFI in development strategies over the last few fiscal years, helping ZFI increase same-store comparable sales (SSCS) consecutively for eight years, playing an integral role in helping fund equipment that improved operational performance and profits, and serving a key role in franchise development working directly with prospective licensees.

He secured a $150 million credit facility that was subsequently paid off, leaving ZFI debt free. During his tenure with the company, Zaxby’s has been the fastest-growing chicken chain in the country.

In 2011, the chain exceeded $840 million in system wide sales. Total sales grew 8.1 percent last year, the result of SSCS growth of 3.4 percent and the addition of 26 new locations in 2011.

“Blake’s leadership, innovation, and genuine desire to make a difference continue to add value to the Zaxby’s system on a daily basis,” Townley says. “His focus and forward thinking will continue to lead Zaxby’s toward prosperity and success. Blake’s career path is another great example of our commitment to growth through the development of talent. ” 

Blake Clayton Bailey Sr., CPA, came to Zaxby’s Franchising, Inc., in August of 2000 from Smithfield Foods in Virginia. He began his career with Zaxby's Franchising, Inc., as corporate controller when the Zaxby’s system consisted of 85 restaurants.

He works closely with the founders, helping them develop long-term financial strategies for ZFI. In more recent years, he has helped build the financial infrastructure to support a 500-plus restaurant franchise system.

Bailey serves on the board of a medical software company based in Atlanta, and he also serves on the board of Downtown Ministries, Inc., in Athens, Georgia.

Downtown Ministries provides sports and education programs to children from low-income neighborhoods in downtown Athens. Downtown Ministries plans to build a school in the heart of downtown Athens to serve the children in the community.

Bailey joins members of the executive team, CEO Zach W. McLeroy, EVP Tony D. Townley, and chief operating officer (COO) Robert E. Baxley, to form a strong leadership team. Together with the help of a talented and deep group of directors and a vibrant community of licensees, they have built the popular fast casual chicken restaurant chain to more than 545 locations in 12 Southeastern states.

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