Pizza Hut is looking for a new president.

The search was triggered by the departure of David Graves, who had been part of the brand’s leadership group since January 2020. Graves first served as Pizza Hut’s general manager and chief brand officer prior to being named president of the company in October 2021.

“We appreciate the strong leadership David Graves has brought to the Pizza Hut U.S. business during the last four-plus years, and the positive impact he had made in helping modernize the brand and positioning it for the future,” a spokesperson told QSR magazine—sister publication of PMQ—in an email. “We wish him well on this next chapter.”

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For now, Aaron Powell, Pizza Hut’s global CEO, will oversee the company’s operations as Yum! Brands—owner of Pizza Hut—searches “for the right candidate to backfill the role,” the spokesperson told QSR magazine.

Now the second-largest pizza chain in the world, Pizza Hut was once the biggest. Last year, the company reported flat sales, which included a 4 percent decrease in year-over-year sales in Q4. Pizza Hut reported 219 closures in 2023 versus 253 gross builds. On the international front, Pizza Hut Global reported 1,586 gross builds versus 752 closures.

Prior to working for Pizza Hut, Graves served as a marketing director for KFC, another restaurant brand in the Yum! Brands portfolio. An in-depth analysis of Pizza Hut’s COVID pivots by QSR points out that Graves was part of a turnaround for Pizza Hut. Even if 2023 wasn’t the brand’s best year, there are many metrics by which Pizza Hut outperformed expectations since the pandemic began. Graves was part of launching things like the “Hut Lane,” which was essentially a drive-thru window for those who had placed an online order for pickup.

Still, Pizza Hut will have a long road if it seeks to become the largest pizza brand in the U.S. While Domino’s Pizza recorded $8.8 billion in U.S. sales in 2022, Pizza Hut recorded $5.5 billion in sales with nearly the same amount of units (6,686 Domino’s stores versus 6,561 Pizza Hut locations).

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