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Mark King named Taco Bell CEO

Artie Starrs was named CEO of sister company Pizza Hut as parent company Yum Brands further shifts its leadership structure.
Photograph courtesy of Taco Bell

Yum Brands on Thursday named former Adidas executive Mark King CEO of its Taco Bell brand and promoted Artie Starrs to the same position at its Pizza Hut brand as the fast-food chain operator worked to solidify its leadership structure.

Both King and Starrs will assume global responsibilities for their brands’ growth strategies, franchise operations and performance. The two will report to David Gibbs, Yum Brands’ president and chief operating officer.

They join Tony Lowings, who was previously named CEO of the company’s KFC division.

Both appointments are effective Aug. 5.

“We believe this global brand division leadership structure at Taco Bell and Pizza Hut will enable the U.S. and international teams to further implement innovative best practices worldwide, strengthen digital and technology capabilities and accelerate growth for franchisees and shareholders,” Yum CEO Greg Creed said in a statement.

King had previously been president of Adidas Group North America before he stepped down in 2018. He was given credit for making it the fastest-growing sports brand during the previous four years. King was previously CEO of TaylorMade-Adidas Golf.

Julie Felss Masino, Taco Bell North America president, and Liz Williams, Taco Bell’s international president, will report to King, who takes over one of the most successful fast-food brands in the U.S. The brand is working to generate that same performance overseas.

Gibbs said King is “the ideal executive to elevate Taco Bell to the next level of growth.” He said that King’s “unique talent rewriting the rules for brands to win in fiercely competitive markets will be central to Taco Bell’s journey to become a $15 billion brand that transcends the quick-service restaurant and retail categories.”

Gibbs also said that Masino and Williams “have delivered fantastic results.” The brand operates more than 7,100 locations worldwide, all but 500 in the U.S.

King said that Taco Bell would be “the only brand I would become part of at this point in my career.”

Starrs, meanwhile, has been head of Pizza Hut’s U.S. division, where the company has been working with its franchisees on a turnaround focused on improving food quality, delivery service and digital efforts.

Gibbs said he has “made bold moves to galvanize Pizza Hut U.S. franchisees” around a transformation agreement designed to improve the brand’s performance.

“I’m confident Artie will help grow and continue to strengthen Pizza Hut’s competitive position with our franchisees globally.”

Starrs will keep oversight of the U.S. business. Vipul Chawla, president of Pizza Hut International, will report to Starrs, who takes over oversight of a brand with more than 18,000 restaurants in 100 countries.  

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