LOUISVILLE, Ky. – David C. Novak, executive chairman of Yum! Brands Inc., plans to retire in May following the company’s annual shareholder meeting. Novak also will step down from the board at that time, and the company’s board will announce a non-executive chairman from among its directors to succeed Novak. Upon retirement from the board, he will become “founder, retired chairman and CEO,” the company said. 

David C. Novak, Yum! Brands Inc.
David C. Novak, executive chairman of Yum! Brands

“I feel deeply privileged to have served over the years as Yum! Brands chairman and CEO,” Novak said in a news release. “As we target the separation of our China business by the end of 2016 and transition to two powerful, independent companies, it is a perfect time for me to complete my retirement. The two new companies will be led by strong, highly capable leaders, Greg Creed at Yum and Micky Pant at Yum China.”

Novak added that the two companies have “enormous growth potential,” and he will remain a shareholder of both companies.

Novak began his career in 1986 at PepsiCo, where he served as CMO for the Pizza Hut division. He went on to become executive vice president of marketing and sales for Pepsi-Cola, and was later named COO.

He next became CEO of KFC US, and later CEO of both KFC and Pizza Hut US. In 1997, PepsiCo spun off KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell and Novak became vice chairman and president of the new company, Yum! Brands (then known as Tricon Global). He was promoted to CEO in 1999 and chairman in 2000. Novak later became executive chairman on Jan. 1, 2015. 

Greg Creed, Yum! Brands
Greg Creed, CEO of Yum! Brands

“David Novak is a visionary leader who built Yum! Brands into a global powerhouse and one of the world’s largest restaurant companies, said Greg Creed, CEO of Yum! Brands. “He is renowned for creating a recognition culture that rewards for performance, and for coaching and mentoring thousands of executives on leadership skills.

“During his tenure, the company expanded its vast footprint in new emerging markets, became the category leader in China, delivered a high return on invested capital and saw its market capitalization grow from $4.6 billion to approximately $31 billion. Shareholders have been well-rewarded over this time thanks to David’s outstanding leadership,” Creed said.