Yum Brands on Thursday named former Kimberly-Clark executive Aaron Powell the CEO of Pizza Hut.
Powell will report to Yum CEO David Gibbs and will take his position effective Sept. 20. He will oversee Pizza Hut’s growth strategies, franchise operations and performance. He takes over for Artie Starrs, who left earlier this year to take the top job at Topgolf.
Kevin Hochman, who is interim president of Pizza Hut U.S., as well as president of KFC U.S., along with Vipul Chawla, head of Pizza Hut International, will report to Powell.
Powell had been president of Kimberly-Clark’s Asia-Pacific consumer business and worked with the consumer products company for more than 14 years in various global leadership roles. His considerable international experience will work well with Pizza Hut, which has nearly 18,000 global restaurants.
Gibbs said in a statement that Powell’s presence and the global brand leadership structure will enable Pizza Hut’s U.S. and international teams to “further implement best practices worldwide and continue their growth trajectory for franchisees and shareholders.”
Gibbs highlighted Powell’s experience in the business-to-business and consumer packaged goods sectors and said he is known for “driving breakthrough innovation and delivering strong performance for iconic household name brands operating in complex environments around the world.”
Powell will take over a brand that has lost its position as the world’s biggest pizza chain to rival Domino’s. It is undergoing a complex transition of what has traditionally been a dine-in business to one focused on takeout and delivery, which are more popular methods for consumers to get pizza.
The pandemic has helped accelerate that evolution, particularly in the U.S. where the company was able to engineer the closure of nearly 300 such restaurants along with the sale of 900 to Flynn Restaurant Group.
Powell called Pizza Hut “an iconic, powerhouse global brand.” “I’m excited to work with Kevin and Vipul and can’t wait to begin working alongside and building relationships with such a talented team of employees and franchisees around the world,” he said in a statement.