YUM! Brands announced Monday afternoon that longtime leader Greg Creed, 62, who has been with the company for 25 years, will retire at the end of 2019. David Gibbs, YUM!’s current chief operating officer and president, will step into the top position, effective January 1. He will also join YUM!’s board on November 1.
Gibbs, 55, oversees the global KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell divisions today.
“I’ve had the privilege of partnering with our franchisees to grow the three iconic brands within the YUM! Brands portfolio for over 30 years and am honored to follow in Greg’s footsteps,” Gibbs said in a statement. “It's thanks to Greg’s terrific leadership and innovative brand building during some of the most pivotal moments in our history that Yum! Brands has emerged as a vibrant and industry-leading growth company. I’m grateful that Greg and I have had the good fortune to build on the legacy of our co-founder David Novak—a strong foundation of three iconic brands and the positive recognition culture he established after our company’s spinoff from PepsiCo in 1997.”
Creed has led YUM! as CEO since January 2015. He helped the company spin off from its China business in 2016 and drove YUM!’s “transformation to become more focused, franchised, and efficient” over the years.
Since 2017, YUM! moved to a 98 percent franchised model, while increasing G&A efficiency and reducing capital expenditures, the company said. Before serving as CEO of YUM!, Creed directed the global Taco Bell division from the same position.
“It has been an incredible journey at YUM! Brands during the past 25 years and my absolute privilege to serve as CEO during such an exciting time for our company,” Creed in a statement. “No other retailer in the world is like YUM! Brands, with our iconic global brands, category leadership, massive scale and uniquely diversified portfolio. I’m proud of how we’re emerging from our multi-year transformation as a more focused, franchised and efficient growth company. The best of YUM! is still to come and I’m delighted we have an exceptional leader like David who will drive the next wave of growth for our company.”
Creed will remain as CEO through the end of the year, the company said, to ensure a smooth transition. He will also serve as a part-time adviser next year and remain on YUM!’s board of directors.
“Greg Creed is one of the most talented and passionate brand builders in the restaurant industry today,” said Brian Cornell, non-executive chairman of YUM!’s board of directors and chairman and CEO of Target Corporation. “On behalf of the board of directors, I want to sincerely thank Greg for his focus on building great brands, strengthening franchise capabilities, expanding the company’s global footprint and leveraging YUM! Brands’ world-class culture and talent to fuel results.”
Gibbs will assume responsibility for YUM!’s overarching strategies, structure, people development, and culture, the company added.
“David is an outstanding commercial leader with a passion for YUM! Brands’ global business, brands and people,” Creed said. “He has been an invaluable strategic partner to me during our transformation and instrumental in shaping our global strategy, accelerating the pace of global new unit development, executing our transformation goals and laying a strong foundation for future growth. Importantly, David lives and breathes our people-first culture and is determined to take it to the next level. I look forward to cheering on David and everyone at YUM! Brands as a friend, loyal customer and shareholder.”
Gibbs joined YUM! in 1989. He’s held a variety of leadership roles with the company, including global strategy, finance, general management, operations, and real estate. He was promoted to his current position in January. Before, Gibbs served as CFO and was the architect of its financial, refranchising, and development strategy to become a capital-light, pure-play franchisor. He previously was the CEO of YUM!’s global Pizza Hut division and president and CFO of YUM! Restaurants International. He also held the title of chief strategy officer.
“I am excited to accept this new role as we conclude the third and final year of our company’s strategic transformation,” Gibbs said. “Because of our journey to become more focused, franchised and efficient, we’re now in the best position we’ve ever been in to accelerate growth and improve franchise unit economics, but we still have more to achieve. Everywhere we operate, we need to continue elevating and investing in a world-class customer experience, with unrivaled talent, modern assets, the best operations and innovative technology. This effort is only achievable through a strong partnership with our more than 2,000 franchisees who run 98 percent of our restaurants globally and employ more than 1.5 million restaurant team members who work for our brands around the world. When we are at our best, we'll continue to deliver long-term value for all our stakeholders.”
The move is the latest leadership change for YUM! In July, the company picked chief executives for its Taco Bell and Pizza Hut divisions. Mark King, former president of Adidas Group North America, took the reins at Taco Bell. Artie Starrs, president of Pizza Hut U.S., was promoted to the chain’s CEO position. The moves were effective August 5.
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