KFC announced Thursday that longtime Yum! Brands executive Tarun Lal will serve as the chicken chain's new president of U.S. operations, effective July 15.
Lal, who has spent 25 years at KFC, is currently the managing director of the Middle East, Pakistan, Turkey, Africa, and India markets. Some of his previous roles include COO of KFC and Pizza Hut India, general manager of KFC India, general manager of KFC Africa, and KFC Global COO. Lal replaces Kevin Hochman, who left KFC to become the new CEO of Chili's and Maggiano's parent Brinker International. He's an active support of female advancement, including KFC's Next-Generation of Women initiative that supports the brand's goal of achieving gender parity in leadership roles by 2025.
Dyke Shipp, president of KFC Global, handled management responsibilities in the U.S. segment in the interim.
"Tarun has proven to be a best-in-class operator with a strong commercial outlook and approach," Shipp said in a statement. "As he joins the U.S. brand, we are confident he will be met with a similar passion for consistent execution and achieving breakthrough results."
KFC has made multiple changes to its leadership team within the past year. In September, the brand revealed Sabir Sami, former COO and managing director of KFC Asia, would become KFC Global CEO, replacing the retiring Tony Lowings. A month later, KFC announced that Nick Chavez, who previously worked 11 years at Nintendo of America, was appointed as new CMO of KFC U.S.
The brand's systemwide sales grew 9 percent in the first quarter year-over-year, fueled by 8 percent unit growth, and a 3 percent rise in same-store sales. In the U.S., comps rose 1 percent. In 2021, the chain clinched eight straight years of positive same-store sales expansion. And for the first time in 17 years, the company saw domestic net unit growth, and it's expected to happen again in 2022. KFC opened its first NextGen restaurant in Berea, Kentucky in Q4 2021 after introducing the design in November 2020. It features a digital-forward and contactless experience, including the company’s first double drive-thru lane. Additional NextGen stores opened in Westfield, Massachusetts, and Detroit.