Yum! Brands Inc. on Tuesday named Micky Pant its new CEO of Yum! Restaurants China, where he will replace the retiring Sam Su, triggering a shuffling of management within the Louisville, Ky.-based quick-service restaurant giant.
Pant is the CEO of KFC. Yum said that Joey Wat, president of KFC China, would become the CEO of KFC. Peter Kao, senior vice president and brand general manager at Pizza Hut China, will take over as CEO of Pizza Hut. Both will report to Pant.
Roger Eaton, Yum’s chief operations officer, will be CEO of KFC outside of China and India and will report to Yum CEO Greg Creed.
“Sam Su is a restaurant industry pioneer in China, having established KFC and Pizza Hut as global powerhouses in the world’s fastest growing economy,” Creed said in a statement. “While we respect and support his decision to retire after a long and successful career with Yum, we are grateful he has built a strong leadership team to carry on and leverage the unprecedented growth opportunity that China presents.”
Same-store sales have struggled mightily in China over the past year amid a health scare there, but Creed suggested sales had turned around, noting that they have “turned significantly positive, demonstrating continued recovery in the business.”
Su is the vice chairman of Yum Brands and became the chairman and CEO of Yum China in 2010. He was named president of the China Division in 1997 and helped Yum grow to more than 6,700 restaurants in more than 1,000 cities in the country. He will serve as an executive advisor through February and will remain on Yum’s board.
“We thank Sam for his many significant contributions to Yum and for ensuring a seamless transition of management to Micky Pant, who I am extraordinarily pleased will become chief executive officer of Yum Restaurants China,” Creed said.
Pant became CEO of the KFC division in 2014. He has held many leadership positions in Yum Brands in various divisions prior to that.
“Micky has been one of our most effective and visionary leaders at Yum for the past decade,” Creed said. “He is one of our finest brand builders in the business with an unparalleled ability to understand consumer insights and to pursue strategies that build trust and loyalty.”
Eaton, meanwhile, has been COO since 2011 but has been with Yum Brands for more than 20 years and has held several positions — including at one point CEO of KFC U.S.
“As the Yum chief operations officer, Roger strengthened our operations capability, food quality and safety and sustainability,” Creed said. “He is a restaurant industry veteran who definitely has KFC shortening in his veins, having held many senior management roles with the brand in the U.S. and internationally. Roger is a tremendous leader and I’m confident he and his team will take the KFC brand to new heights globally, building on Micky’s success.”