In Boardroom Shuffle, Puzder Exits CKE, KFC’s Marker Takes Over


Andrew Puzder with Franchise Times Editor-at-Large Nancy Weingartner.

Joe Veen

A pair of high-profile moves are shaking things up at CKE and KFC.

Early on Tuesday, KFC U.S. President Jason Marker was replaced by former CMO Kevin Hochman. In a press release, Yum Brands announced that Marker left to “pursue other opportunities.”

A few hours later, that opportunity was revealed in a release from CKE.

Marker will take over as CEO of CKE Restaurant Holdings, replacing Andrew Puzder, who served at the head of the company since 2000. Puzder, who served through the Great Recession, plotting a new course for growth, became a household name for better or worse as President Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary nominee

Stepping away from the bright, bright limelight would make sense after the contentious process, but Puzder said the transition had been in the works long before his nomination.

“I expressed my desire to have CKE plan for succession approximately a year ago, and I could not be more pleased to have Jason Marker selected to be the company’s next leader,” Puzder stated in a press release. “He is an outstanding executive who will continue to build the Hardee's and Carl’s Jr. brands both internationally and domestically.”

At KFC, Hochman isn’t just moving into a vacuum. The move seems to have been an easy choice for Yum. He’s been in the CMO role for three years and has 10 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth, and he was instrumental in rebranding the iconic chicken purveyor. 

“He has led KFC’s incredible brand re-launch and brought back the greatest chicken salesman in the world, Colonel Sanders, to pop culture,” said Greg Creed, chief executive officer, Yum! Brands. “He’s the perfect person to continue to grow and elevate KFC U.S. into a distinctive, relevant brand that people trust and champion.”

Yum (NYSE: YUM) shot up to more than $64 before sinking slightly (along with the rest of the market), ending the day at down .53% at $63.73. 

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