ATLANTA – Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc. announced the promotion of Andrew Skehan to president of the company international division, while John Merkin has been named COO.

Before his promotion, Skehan had served as COO, International since 2011. In his new position he will oversee the company's overseas operations. Popeyes has restaurants in 26 foreign countries and three US territories.

“We have taken a long-term approach that positions us for accelerated and sustained growth,” Skehan said. “Our focus on enhancing our organizational capabilities, streamlining operations and investing in brand development, has proven to be a winning strategy. I am confident International will play a big part in Popeyes future.”

The company said its latest earnings report cited 2014 as the eighth consecutive year of positive same-store sales for the international division.

“Andrew has been instrumental in executing against our strategic Roadmap,” said Cheryl Bachelder, CEO. “As president, International, he will spearhead our entry into new high-growth markets. In this role, Andrew will continue our focus on developing quality restaurants globally.”

John Merkin is a 30-year veteran of the restaurant and retail-franchising industries. He will manage company and franchise operations, new unit development and restaurant support services.

Before joining Popeyes, Merkin served as senior vice president of Operations at IHOP, which is owned by DineEquity Inc. At IHOP, Merkin was responsible for franchise services and operations support for more than 1,600 restaurants in the US and international markets, with more than 350 franchisees.

Merkin also spent more than 20 years with InterContinental Hotels Group PLC where he held various positions including senior vice president, Brand Management, Holiday Inn Brands, the Americas. Merkin also held roles in franchise operations, field marketing and franchise development and services.

“Over the past seven years, we have pursued bold, ambitious goals, with our Roadmap strategies, delivering quarter after quarter of positive results,” Bachelder said. “As we prepare to advance our employee and guest experience, John brings a proven track record in creating high trust, high performance teams that support the success of franchisees and restaurant managers. He has broad and deep experience in operations, development, brand building and talent development. We are pleased to announce his appointment as chief operating officer.”

Merkin earned an MBA from the JL Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern Univ. and completed his undergraduate work at Southern Illinois Univ., where he earned a BS in Business Management.

“Popeyes has distinguished itself as a market leader among quick-service restaurants, achieving results through strategic innovation, franchisee focus and a commitment to executional excellence,” Merkin said. “I am honored to become a part of this leadership team and look forward to contributing to the success of the Popeyes brand and organization.”