YUM! Brands picked chief executives for its Taco Bell and Pizza Hut divisions, the company announced Thursday afternoon. Mark King, former president of Adidas Group North America, is taking the reins at Taco Bell. Artie Starrs, president of Pizza Hut U.S., is being promoted to the chain’s CEO position. The moves are effective August 5.

“We believe this global brand division leadership structure at Taco Bell and Pizza Hut will enable the U.S. and international teams to further implement innovative best practices worldwide, strengthen digital and technology capabilities and accelerate growth for franchisees and shareholders,” YUM! Brands CEO Greg Creed said in a statement.

King and Starrs, as well as KFC division CEO Tony Lowings, will report to company COO and CFO David Gibbs.

[float_image image=”https://www.qsrmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/tacobell.jpg” width=”50″ link=”” caption=”Mark King helped Adidas increase its sales 35 percent in 2017.” alt=”” align=”left” /]

Julie Felss Masino, Taco Bell’s North America president, and Liz Williams, its international president, will report to King. The brand has posted seven consecutive years of positive same-store sales growth.

Taco Bell’s CEO position has stood vacant since Brian Niccol left for Chipotle in March 2018. “Mark King is the ideal executive to elevate Taco Bell to the next level of global growth,” Gibbs said in a statement. “His unique talent rewriting the rules for brands to win in fiercely competitive markets will be central to Taco Bell’s journey to become a $15 billion brand that transcends the quick-service restaurant and retail categories.” Gibbs was promoted to the role in January.

King left Adidas in 2018. Under his leadership, YUM! said, the company increased its sales 35 percent in 2017, doubling its market share and regaining the No. 2 position in the U.S. From 2003–2014, King was CEO of TaylorMade-Adidas Golf.

“The courage, creativity, culture, and potential of Taco Bell make it the only brand I would become part of at this point in my career,” King said in a statement. “I’m truly excited and honored to join Yum! Brands and to work with Julie, Liz, and the talented team of employees and franchisees who are already making Taco Bell a powerhouse global brand with extraordinary possibilities for the future.”

[float_image image=”https://www.qsrmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Artie.jpg” width=”50″ link=”” caption=”Artie Starrs joined Pizza Hut U.S. in 2013.” alt=”” align=”left” /]

Starrs, who joined Pizza Hut U.S. in 2013 and has held GM and CFO titles with the brand, helped drive many of its customer-experience improvements, including faster delivery service and a broad suite of digital initiatives.

“Artie is a talented growth leader who has made bold moves to galvanize Pizza Hut U.S. franchisees around the Transformation Agreement, strengthen the brand’s digital and e-commerce roadmap, improve operations and the customer experience and articulate a clear path forward to drive Pizza Hut’s growth over the long term,” Gibbs added. “I’m confident Artie will help grow and continue to strengthen Pizza Hut’s competitive position with our franchisees globally, working with a strong leader in Vipul Chawla and the entire International team.”

Pizza Hut has introduced a delivery tracker with text alerts, easy order options through voice-enabled digital assistants and social, and Hut Rewards, with Starrs at the helm. At the end of 2018, Starrs led the company’s acquisition of QuikOrder, the online ordering engine for the Pizza Hut U.S. business.

“I’m incredibly excited and privileged to continue working with [international president Vipul Chawla], our Pizza Hut U.S. leadership team and franchisees. I am looking forward to working more closely with our global brand leaders and franchisees to drive breakthrough innovation and customer experiences,” Starrs said in a statement. He will retain direct leadership of Pizza Hut in the U.S. as part of his global responsibilities. Chawla will report to Starrs.

Fast Food, Story, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell