Yum! Brands Inc. chief executive David Novak will transition out of his role and become executive chairman of the global quick-service giant, effective Jan. 1, 2015.

The move will usher in Taco Bell chief executive Greg Creed as the next CEO of Yum, which operates or franchises more than 40,000 locations of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in more than 125 countries. Yum is not commenting on a successor to lead Taco Bell.

In his new position as executive chairman of Louisville, Ky.-based Yum, Novak will form the Office of the Chairman, a new group that will also include Creed and Sam Su, chief executive of Yum’s China division and current vice chairman of Yum! Brands Inc.

“This new Office of the Chairman will partner as a triumvirate on overall corporate strategy and leadership development to propel continued growth,” Novak said of the succession plan in a statement.

Before the start of the transition at the onset of 2015, Creed will continue his duties as chief executive of Irvine, Calif.-based Taco Bell and work with Novak to develop a transition plan. All of the leaders of Yum’s reporting divisions — which include the global businesses for KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, as well as the China and India divisions — will report directly to Creed, who has been with Yum for 20 years.

Novak called Creed “the ideal leader to become our next CEO.”

“First and foremost,” Novak said, “he walks the talk of our culture and is determined to take it to the next level. … He made Taco Bell an industry leader, elevating the brand’s esteem and establishing top-tier customer service levels. He is a breakthrough thinker, creating new dayparts such as Fourth Meal and breakfast, as well as major product lines, such as Doritos Locos Tacos and Cantina Bell. … There is no doubt in my mind he is fully qualified and equipped with the positive energy we need to lead the company to the next level.”

Creed began his career at Yum with KFC and Pizza Hut in New Zealand and his native country of Australia. He recently ranked No. 9 on The Power List, a rundown of the 50 most powerful people who are leading and shaping change in the restaurant industry, as chosen by Nation’s Restaurant News.

View Greg Creed’s profile on The Power List >>

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN