The family intertwined with the evolution of McDonald’s UK

McDonalds is a brand that has always had family at its heart.

But for Kevin Foley, owner of 14 franchises across the East of England, this idea of family has more than one meaning.

Aside from his family-friendly restaurants and the extended family of his loyal staff, Kevin likes to say that he was born with “ketchup in his veins” – the son of the very first UK company employee to be granted a franchise.

Following in the footsteps of his father as a pioneer for the brand, Kevin then became McDonald’s first UK-based second-generation franchisee.

A Foley family history

The Foley family’s lives have been intertwined with the evolution of the McDonald’s brand in the UK ever since Terry Foley began working at its Woolwich branch in London in the 1970s.

The young man worked alongside Paul Preston, former President and Chief Executive Officer of McDonald’s UK who saw promise in his dedication and recognised a drive and ambition that deserved to be rewarded.

As a result, Terry went through the McDonald’s management programme and was promoted into several senior roles, one of which was the opening and development of its stores in Central London and the South Coast.

His son, Kevin, only 12 at the time, would often join him as he toured stores on the weekends carrying out customer satisfaction reports and audits and when he reached 14, Kevin took a part- time job at the Eltham High Street branch in London.

Shortly afterwards his father was offered the chance to become the first UK company employee to be granted a franchise and he moved to Norwich where Kevin took on his first permanent role at the former Westlegate branch, where he would gain experience of management.

Kevin watched his father’s progression in the business and recognised in McDonalds a company where he too could build a successful future.

So in 1995 he opened up and ran the Wroxham branch, before taking on the role of Store Manager at Tuckswood when he started exploring the concept of ‘second generation franchising’.

This allowed a son or daughter to buy into the business through the purchase of one of their parent’s stores – an idea that, until this point had only been explored in American branches of McDonalds.

Kevin approached McDonald’s UK with the concept and 18 months later, after completing all of the legal preparatory work, the company offered him the chance to become the first second generation franchisee in the UK.

In 1999, he purchased the Tuckswood branch from his father, before opening the new Norwich Airport and Brundall locations.

Then, during the course of 2018, he purchased the Beccles Drive Thru, the Regent Road in Great Yarmouth branch and Gapton Hall, Great Yarmouth.

The latest additions were Snetterton in 2020 with Cromer ASDA Great Yarmouth and Broadland Gate all opening in 2021.

One big family

They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – and this is certainly true when you look at the similarities between Terry and Kevin’s management styles.

Both have a strong work ethic based around the idea that you only get out what you put in. They also lead by example – using motivation and encouragement to drive people to achieve better. Finally, they push the family-focused mentality to their staff and take immense pride and satisfaction in seeing young people progressing through the business.

Kevin now works closely with his branch managers on recruitment and retention. They invest heavily in employees, helping them to learn new skills and gain confidence while building upon key life lessons such as teamwork and decision making.

In short, Kevin has built a McDonalds franchise which is one big happy family – a shining example of everything the brand stands for.