- KFC’s chief operating officer, chief financial officer and national field operations director have informed parent company Yum Brands that they will retire by the end of November, according to company messages viewed by The Wall Street Journal.
- Due to the impact of rising interest rates on the company’s pension fund, these executives will retire before escalating rates further reduce their payouts.
- These departures come a few months after KFC hired a new U.S president, and over a year after it brought on a new CEO. Yum Brands didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.
The executives choosing to retire will take decades of experience across Yum Brands with them. KFC COO Monica Rothgery has worked at the company for 30 years across all three Yum chains, while KFC CFO Trip Vornholt has worked at the company for 25 years. Vornholt was instrumental in turning KFC’s U.S. business around, according to The Wall Street Journal. Jeff Griffin, director of national field operations, has been with KFC for 34 years. KFC will fill Griffin’s position with two executives, since one alone wouldn’t have his equivalent experience.
KFC’s business has seen some decline this year, which could be further impacted by top executive departures. While the first half of 2022’s same-store sales were up 1%, they were down compared to an increase of 18% during the first half of 2021, according to the company’s Q2 2022 earnings report. KFC’s U.S. system sales were down 6% during Q2 2022 and down 2% year-to-date. KFC U.S. is lapping the impact of government stimulus and its chicken sandwich launch, Yum Brands CEO David Gibbs said during the company’s August earnings call.
Yum Brands told The Wall Street Journal that it stopped offering this pension fund to new participants in 2001 and only a small number of employees are enrolled. Many of them have chosen to stay with the company.
Employee turnover at the executive level has been common this year, as many top executives have moved companies or retired as conditions improved two years after the pandemic hit. Companies like Red Robin, Brinker and Denny’s gained new CEOs this year.
The retirement trend seen at Yum is unusual in terms of the broader American workforce, who have been pushing back retirement, according to the 2022 survey from Nationwide. Four in 10 employees said they have pushed back their retirement ages due to inflation and rising living costs.