LOUISVILLE, KY — Yum! Brands, Inc. announced Sept. 22 the promotion of Sabir Sami, 54, to KFC Division Chief Executive Officer, reporting to Yum! Brands Chief Executive Officer David Gibbs, effective January 1, 2022. Sami, a 12-year veteran of the company, who currently serves as KFC Division Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director of KFC Asia, will succeed Tony Lowings, who is stepping down as CEO at the end of 2021 in advance of his retirement in early 2022. In this role, Sami will assume global responsibility for driving the brand strategy and performance of KFC.
“Sabir is an exceptional leader with deep expertise and knowledge of our business and has a strong, proven track record of growing KFC’s physical and brand presence in markets around the world,” said Gibbs. “As a highly-respected strategic brand builder, operations expert and heart-led leader, Sabir is a natural choice to continue successfully executing KFC’s long-term global growth strategies in close partnership with our franchisees and further elevate KFC as a relevant, easy and distinctive (R.E.D.) brand.”
In addition to overseeing operational strategy for all KFC markets, Sami dually serves as Managing Director of KFC Asia, a high-growth region for the brand representing 17 markets, excluding China, and comprising more than 15 percent of all KFC Division restaurants. Prior to this, Sami was Managing Director for the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Turkey markets, where he was instrumental in growing the business and establishing KFC as one of the region’s most R.E.D. brands. Sami also served as General Manager for the KFC Canada and Turkey businesses. Prior to Yum!, Sami served in various leadership roles at Procter & Gamble, the Coca-Cola Company and Reckitt Benckiser.
“I’m incredibly privileged and excited to continue working with our talented and dedicated KFC leaders and amazing franchise partners around the world to keep strengthening and accelerating the development of our powerful, iconic brand,” said Sami. “KFC is uniquely positioned around the world as a well-loved, well-trusted brand with millions of fans – the future is certainly bright.”
Dyke Shipp, 55, who currently serves as KFC Division Chief Development Officer and Chief People Officer, is being promoted to KFC Division President, reporting to Sami, effective January 1, 2022. Shipp brings over 30 years of experience with the Company and expertise successfully leading KFC’s development and people and culture strategies. In this role, Shipp will partner with Sami on KFC’s global people and growth agenda and support the General Managers of its businesses in the Americas, including Canada, the U.S. and Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Dyke brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise and strategic acumen to this role, along with a commitment to nurturing an inclusive, high-performing culture,” said Sami. “Dyke is a seasoned leader with a strong track record of delivering impactful results. I look forward to partnering with Dyke as we work toward the next chapter of growth for KFC.”
Tony Lowings has been with Yum! Brands and KFC for more than 27 years, leading the KFC brand since 2019. Throughout his successful career with the Company, he has held a number of leadership positions including President and Chief Operations Officer of KFC Division, Managing Director of KFC Asia-Pacific and Managing Director of KFC SOPAC (Australia and New Zealand), among others.
“I want to thank Tony, a trusted colleague and dear friend to many, for his decades of service, commitment to excellence and significant contributions to our business,” said Gibbs. “Tony’s unwavering focus on ensuring restaurant excellence, building a R.E.D., Always Original brand and winning on KFC’s delicious taste and quality will leave a long and lasting imprint on our company. While we will miss Tony, we wish him well as he enjoys this new phase of life with his family.”
Lowings remains KFC Division CEO through the end of 2021 to ensure a smooth and seamless transition. He will remain with the Company in another capacity supporting transition needs into the first quarter of 2022.
KFC is the global leader in the chicken category and Yum!’s largest brand with more than 25,000 restaurants in over 145 countries and territories and more than $26 billion in system sales as of year-end 2020. KFC’s unit economics fueled by strong franchise partners leads to, on average, a new KFC restaurant opening every six hours across the world. In addition to new unit development, the KFC Division added nearly $4 billion in system sales from digital channels last year to grow the KFC digital business to about $10 billion in system sales in 2020.