- Yum Brands' board of directors unanimously elected COO David Gibbs as CEO, effective Jan. 1. He will join the board effective Nov. 1, according to a press release.
- Gibbs will replace Greg Creed, who plans to retire at the end of the year after 25 years at the company. Creed has been CEO since January 2015. During his tenure, he executed the 2016 spinoff of Yum China and oversaw the company’s transformation into a 98% franchised business model. Prior to Yum, he led the global Taco Bell division as CEO.
- As the company’s new CEO, Gibbs will be responsible for the company’s overarching strategy, structure, people development and culture. His focus will be to drive growth, sales and profitability globally. Creed will remain as CEO through the end of 2019 and will serve as part-time advisor next year and remain on the board of directors.
Yum Brands has been particularly active this year in adding new leadership. In July, the company brought on former Adidas Group North America president Mark King as Taco Bell CEO and promoted former Pizza Hut U.S. president Artie Starrs to CEO of the pizza chain. The company also appointed Chris Turner as its CFO. KFC U.S. promoted Monica Rothgery as COO.
All of this leadership has extensive experience in growing brands both in the U.S. and globally, which will further position the company into a strong position as it eyes new markets. Yum Brands' succession plan will also be an easy one with Gibbs already working within the C-suite and unlikely to make any drastic changes as CEO.
Several other major chains have also undergone leadership changes lately. Pret A Manger's CEO retired in July while Panera Bread appointed a new CEO in April. Casual dining chains Red Robin, Texas Roadhouse and Sizzler have also undergone CEO transitions. While a new CEO could provide fresh ideas and a new direction for these companies, this move can leave a management hole. Red Robin is still looking for a CEO following the April retirement of its president and CEO Denny Marie Post and during a time of contention with its investors, for example.
Leadership changes are by no means unusual nor do they necessarily signal a problematic time for Yum Brands, like it does for Red Robin. This time last summer, over a dozen restaurants also appointed new CEOs. For Yum Brand, its new CEO is coming in during a time of positive growth for the company, with systemwide sales growing 10% globally during Q2 2019. Its Taco Bell brand posted positive same-store sales in 17 of the previous 18 quarters, while both KFC and Pizza Hut reported improving sales metrics. Under these conditions, Gibbs will be taking over a company with plenty of room to still grow without having to worry too much about recovering lost sales.