LOUISVILLE, KY. — David W. Gibbs has been tapped to lead Yum! Brands, Inc. as chief executive officer, effective Jan. 1, 2020. He will replace Greg Creed, who plans to retire at the end of 2019 following a 25-year career with the company.

Mr. Gibbs currently is president and chief operating officer of Yum! Brands, overseeing the global KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell divisions. He will join the board of directors Nov. 1.

“I’ve had the privilege of partnering with our franchisees to grow the three iconic brands within the Yum! Brands portfolio for over 30 years and am honored to follow in Greg’s footsteps,” Mr. Gibbs said. “It’s thanks to Greg’s terrific leadership and innovative brand building during some of the most pivotal moments in our history that Yum! Brands has emerged as a vibrant and industry-leading growth company. I’m grateful that Greg and I have had the good fortune to build on the legacy of our co-founder David Novak — a strong foundation of three iconic brands and the positive recognition culture he established after our company’s spinoff from PepsiCo in 1997.”

Mr. Gibbs joined Yum! Brands in 1989 and has held various leadership roles in global strategy, finance, general management, operations and real estate across all three of the company’s restaurant brands. Prior to his current role, he was president and chief financial officer and is credited with architecting the company’s transformation into a capital-light, pure-play franchisor.

“David is an outstanding commercial leader with a passion for Yum! Brands’ global business, brands and people,” Mr. Creed said. “He has been an invaluable strategic partner to me during our transformation and instrumental in shaping our global strategy, accelerating the pace of global new unit development, executing our transformation goals and laying a strong foundation for future growth. Importantly, David lives and breathes our people-first culture and is determined to take it to the next level. I look forward to cheering on David and everyone at Yum! Brands as a friend, loyal customer and shareholder.”

Mr. Creed became c.e.o. of Yum! Brands in January 2015. Under his leadership, the company executed its spin-off of Yum China and transitioned to a more focused and efficient business model while significantly reducing capital expenditures. He previously led the global Taco Bell division as c.e.o.

“It has been an incredible journey at Yum! Brands during the past 25 years and my absolute privilege to serve as c.e.o. during such an exciting time for our company,” Mr. Creed said. “No other retailer in the world is like Yum! Brands, with our iconic global brands, category leadership, massive scale and uniquely diversified portfolio. I’m proud of how we’re emerging from our multi-year transformation as a more focused, franchised and efficient growth company. The best of Yum! is still to come and I’m delighted we have an exceptional leader like David who will drive the next wave of growth for our company.”

Mr. Creed will remain in his role through the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition and will serve as a part-time adviser next year. He also will retain his seat on the company’s board of directors.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, Mr. Gibbs will oversee an executive team that includes Chris Turner, c.f.o.; Tracy Skeans, chief transformation and people officer; Scott Catlett, general counsel and corporate secretary; and Ken Muench, Collider Lab chief strategy officer and co-founder. Additionally, global brand division leaders Tony Lowings of KFC, Mark King of Taco Bell, and Artie Starrs of Pizza Hut will continue to report to Mr. Gibbs.

“I am excited to accept this new role as we conclude the third and final year of our company’s strategic transformation,” Mr. Gibbs said. “Because of our journey to become more focused, franchised and efficient, we’re now in the best position we’ve ever been in to accelerate growth and improve franchise unit economics, but we still have more to achieve. Everywhere we operate, we need to continue elevating and investing in a world-class customer experience, with unrivaled talent, modern assets, the best operations and innovative technology. This effort is only achievable through a strong partnership with our more than 2,000 franchisees who run 98% of our restaurants globally and employ more than 1.5 million restaurant team members who work for our brands around the world. When we are at our best, we’ll continue to deliver long-term value for all our stakeholders.”