Roger Eaton, CEO of the KFC Division of Yum Brands Inc., will retire at the end of the year and will be replaced Jan. 1 by president and COO Tony Lowings, the company said Friday.
Lowings, left, a 24-year veteran of Yum Brands, has vast experience running international growth for the Louisville-based company, which is also parent to Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.
Eaton has led the KFC brand since 2014. In his new role, Lowings, 60, will report to Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed. All top-level KFC leaders from around the world will report to Lowings effective Jan. 1, including Kevin Hochman, president and chief concept officer of the U.S. division of KFC. Hochman replaced Jason Marker last year.
As CEO, Lowings “will assume global responsibility for driving the brand strategy and performance,” the company said in a statement.
Creed called Lowings an outstanding leader with a strong leadership track record.
“As a proven and highly respected strategic brand builder, high-impact operations leader and people grower, Tony is the perfect person to continue elevating KFC into a distinctive, relevant and easy global brand that people trust and champion,” Creed said in a statement.
Before becoming COO of KFC earlier this year, Lowings had held various leadership positions in Yum’s international business units. He was managing director of Asia-Pacific, a high-growth region for KFC. He also held the role of COO of Yum Restaurants International.
“I’m thrilled and incredibly privileged to continue working with our committed KFC leaders and amazing franchise partners to further strengthen and accelerate the development of our powerhouse global brand,” Lowings said in a statement. “KFC is an iconic, well-loved brand with millions of fans and I couldn’t be more excited about its future.”
During his years at KFC and Yum, Eaton held a number of leadership positions including COO of Yum Brands, CEO of KFC U.S., and chief operating and development officer of Yum Brands.
“Roger’s imprint on our culture, people and the KFC brand is vast and his legacy is lasting,” Creed said in a statement. “While we will miss Roger, he’s earned this next phase of life and we wish him well as he spends time with his wife Debbie and children Pierce and Georgie.”
KFC generates global sales of more than $24 billion at its more than 21,000 restaurants around the world.
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