- Yum Brands appointed new CEOs for its Taco Bell and Pizza Hut brands. Mark King, former president of Adidas Group North America, will become the Taco Bell CEO while Artie Starrs, former president of Pizza Hut U.S., will be promoted to CEO effective Aug. 5, according to a press release.
- King has extensive experience in driving growth, innovation, brand relevance and culture and is credited for making Adidas one of the fastest growing retail brands in North America. He stepped down as CEO at Adidas in 2018.
- Under Starrs' leadership, Pizza Hut U.S. introduced various innovative online ordering tools and services to improve customer service. He also oversaw the company's acquisition of QuikOrder, an online tool to improve the brand’s ability to deliver a personalized online ordering experience. Star will also retain his direct leadership of Pizza Hut U.S. as part of his global responsibilities.
QSR brands are increasingly eyeing international markets as new avenues of potential growth. With 28,000 QSR units added in the U.S. over the last decade, the domestic market is quite saturated, explaining why there have been more announcements of American brands planting a stake abroad, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Bringing on leadership with the skills to grow a brand globally will be important to maintain positive international same-store sales growth.
For Taco Bell, King brings with him a history of successful growth as the former CEO of Adidas. Under his leadership, the sportswear manufacturer posted a 35% sales increase in 2017. Taco Bell, Yum’s strongest brand with seven consecutive quarters of growth, is already beginning its overseas expansion, completing a major deal in May to add 600 units in India and over 100 in Australia and New Zealand. It is part of a larger plan to have 1,000 international units by 2022.
Pizza Hut's new CEO will likely take his U.S. strategies, especially those for online ordering and other tech tools, abroad as it eyes Latin America and elsewhere.
Yum Brands is one of many in the restaurant industry shifting its leadership as part of their international growth strategies. Restaurant Brands International promoted Jose Gil, previously Burger King's CEO, to CEO of the holding company, with the goal of using his expertise to grow its brands abroad. It’s already started to do so with a 1,500-unit deal to add Popeyes in China and is also hoping to become the market leader in Spain.
CKE Restaurants, parent to Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, brought on a CIO in March to oversee global information systems infrastructure that will support the company's international growth strategy. In addition, Wendy's created a new position for president, international and chief development officer in May to oversee international business.