Yum Brands, under new CEO David Gibbs, on Thursday announced major leadership changes at the company’s three quick-service brands including naming KFC leader Kevin Hochman as interim president of the struggling Pizza Hut division.
Hochman’s turnaround experience and ability to improve distinctive brands through innovation “make him ideally suited for this opportunity,” Gibbs said during the company's Thursday morning fourth quarter earnings call.
The KFC executive, left, will continue his responsibilities as president of the chicken chain's U.S. division, a role he’s had since 2017.
Yum said Hochman will be “supporting Pizza Hut Global CEO Artie Starrs who is devoting more time to his global role to ensure the success of the Pizza Hut International and U.S. businesses.”
The interim appointment comes as Pizza Hut reported a 2% drop in global same-store sales and a 4% decrease in the U.S.
“Pizza Hut U.S. continues to be a business in transition and for the last three years we've made improvements in food quality, speed of service, our loyalty program and upgrading our technology for online ordering and delivery,” Gibbs said.
Hochman is credited with lifting sales at the quick-service chicken chain when he resurrected brand ambassador Colonel Sanders as part of the brand’s “re-colonelization” marketing strategy. That plan called for creating brand campaigns that resonated with consumers, including adding appealing value offerings.
"He is using that same playbook at Pizza Hut," Gibbs told investors.
He said it is too soon to talk specific tactics. However, Hochman has started talking to franchisees, who are excited to have him join the Pizza Hut team.
“Kevin and team are working closely in partnership with our U.S. [Pizza Hut] franchisees, many of whom have the capital capability and commitment to continue driving this turnaround,” Gibbs said.
Broadly, the turnaround formula for Pizza Hut, which has been closing units, includes delivering “a great customer experience with the best tasting pizza, unbeatable value, distinctive food innovation, a best-in-class digital experience and modern assets.”
When Pizza Hut and other Yum Brands divisions deliver on those attributes, “we grow sales consistently,” Gibbs said.
During the call, Gibbs named new corporate leaders at Taco Bell and KFC.
Nikki Lawson is Taco Bell’s new chief brand officer and Shannon Hennessy is the global chief financial officer at KFC.
Stay tuned for more details.
Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected]
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Update: This store has been edited to include more details.