• Rawlings out, Hearl in as Pizza Hut president

DALLAS -- Mike Rawlings, president of Pizza Hut Inc., since 1997, was replaced in the chain's top seat on Nov. 22 by Peter R. Hearl.

Hearl, 51, is a 12-year veteran of Yum! Brands who most recently served as executive vice president and chief people officer for the company's 32,500 international restaurants. Prior to that he was Yum's chief operations officer.

According to a release, Rawlings "resigned to spend more time with his family and pursue personal interests."

Pizza Hut's continued disappointing sales trends, however, may have played a role in Rawlings' sudden departure. Despite a slew of heavily ad-supported product introductions and reintroductions, the company has struggled to sustain long-term positive comp-store sales since this year's first quarter, when they rose 2 percent. Comp-store sales in 2002's second and third quarter were off 3 percent and 1 percent respectively.

Pizza Hut does not report sales at its U.S. franchised stores, which make up more than two-thirds of its total domestic system. Its international store sales, all of which are franchised, are blended with those from KFC, also owned by Yum!

"Peter Hearl is a seasoned restaurant executive with a proven track record ... ," David C. Novak, Yum! Brands chairman and chief executive officer said in a release. "At the same time, I want to publicly thank Mike Rawlings for his many significant contributions to our company."

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