LOUISVILLE, KY. — When KFC rings in the new year it will do so with a new leader.

KFC’s parent, Yum! Brands, Inc., announced on Sept. 22 that Sabir Sami has been promoted to chief executive officer of the KFC Division, effective Jan. 1, 2022. Mr. Sami will succeed Tony Lowings, who will step down as CEO at the end of 2021 in advance of retirement in early 2022.

Mr. Sami currently is chief operating officer of the KFC Division and managing director of KFC Asia. In his new role, he 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 David Gibbs, CEO of Yum! Brands. “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.”

Prior to his most recent role, Mr. Sami was managing director for the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Turkey markets. He also has worked as general manager for the KFC Canada and Turkey businesses. Prior to Yum!, he held various leadership roles at Procter & Gamble, the Coca-Cola Co. 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,” Mr. Sami said. “KFC is uniquely positioned around the world as a well-loved, well-trusted brand with millions of fans — the future is certainly bright.”

Yum! Brands also announced Dyke Shipp has been promoted to president of the KFC Division, effective Jan. 1, 2022. Mr. Shipp currently is chief development officer and chief people officer for the KFC Division. In his new role, Mr. Shipp will partner with Mr. Sami on KFC’s global people and growth agenda and support the general managers of its businesses in the Americas, including Canada, the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Mr. Shipp has more than 30 years of experience with Yum! Brands.

“Dyke brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise and strategic acumen to this role, along with a commitment to nurturing an inclusive, high-performing culture,” Mr. Sami said. “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.”

Mr. Lowings has been with Yum! Brands and KFC for more than 27 years, leading the KFC brand since 2019. Throughout his career with the company, he has held a number of leadership positions, including president and COO of the KFC Division, managing director of KFC Asia-Pacific and managing director of KFC SOPAC (Australia and New Zealand), among others.

He will remain CEO of the KFC Division 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, the company said.

“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,” Mr. Gibbs said. “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.”