Pizza Hut on Wednesday announced the promotion of David Graves to president of Pizza Hut U.S., reporting to Pizza Hut Division Chief Executive Officer Aaron Powell, effective January 1, 2022. Graves currently serves as General Manager Pizza Hut U.S. and will succeed interim president Pizza Hut U.S. Kevin Hochman. In this role, Graves will continue to build on Pizza Hut’s momentum and assume responsibility for driving profitable same-store sales, franchise operations and overall performance for the U.S. business.
“David has a well-deserved reputation for delivering results, repeatedly demonstrating his expertise in identifying solutions to business challenges that not only enhance the experience for customers, but also benefit restaurant economics, and I couldn’t be more pleased by his promotion,” says Powell. “The Pizza Hut U.S. strategy is strong, and the leadership and talent of this team is extraordinary. I’m confident that we’ll continue to see positive growth of this iconic brand in the years ahead,” said Powell.
With Graves’ appointment, Hochman, who dually serves as president and Chief Concept Officer KFC U.S., will resume full-time leadership of KFC U.S., starting January 1, 2022. Having served in an interim role at Pizza Hut U.S. since late 2019, Hochman was brought on board to help strengthen the Pizza Hut U.S. business and accelerate innovation while continuing to lead a thriving KFC U.S. brand. Under Hochman’s and Graves’ leadership and in partnership with its franchisees, Pizza Hut U.S. has delivered product innovation, sustained sales improvement and continued to invest in its off-premise channel in response to shifting consumer demand.
“Kevin has delivered in a really meaningful and significant way, and I can’t thank him enough for his commitment and collaboration over the last two years leading two of our iconic brands in the U.S.,” says David Gibbs, Yum! Brands CEO. “We’re really pleased with Pizza Hut’s continued brand revitalization and transformation to a modern off-premise business in the U.S. I have all the confidence in David Graves – who has done an amazing job reinvigorating Pizza Hut’s innovation pipeline and bringing the brand forward to consumers in a way that’s really resonating – and believe Pizza Hut has an incredibly bright future.”
Since joining Pizza Hut in early 2020 as Chief Brand Officer, and most recently as General Manager, Graves has played a critical role in the development and continued execution of Pizza Hut’s turnaround strategy in the U.S. Prior to joining Pizza Hut, Graves spent several years at KFC U.S. leading marketing strategy and was responsible for much of the food innovation credited in KFC’s turnaround. Prior to joining Yum! in 2016, Graves spent much of his career at Procter & Gamble, where he led innovation and insights for several large brands in the consumer packaged goods space.
“I’m grateful to have worked alongside Kevin the past two years at Pizza Hut and before that, at KFC, and am honored to step into this role, leading one of America’s iconic brands,” says Graves. “In partnership with our franchisees and the Pizza Hut leadership team, I’m excited to build on our recent momentum and help guide this brand into the future.
“The opportunity to work on the Pizza Hut brand alongside this team has been an incredible experience. It’s gratifying to see the strategy working that we put in place nearly two years ago, highlighted by an improvement in four-wall economics,” adds Hochman. “David is a proven leader and an accomplished brand builder, and I can’t think of a better person to pass the torch to that ensures a seamless transition and continued success for the Pizza Hut U.S. business.”