Pizza Hut appoints UK chief executive

Pizza Hut has appointed Alasdair Murdoch as chief executive. He takes over from John Derkach, who moved back to Whitbread as managing director of Costa Coffee last month.

Murdoch joins from Pizza Hut France, where he was general manager. He has worked with Yum Brands!, Whitbread’s joint venture partner in Pizza Hut, since 1995 and has previously been operations director for Pizza Hut and KFC.

He arrives at Pizza Hut following a number of changes including the sudden departure of marketing director Martin Pugh, who left the company without a job to go to in November. He was in the role for less than a year. He had been working on a revitalisation of the brand and appointed Wieden & Kennedy to handle the advertising and Starcom to handle the media account. Simon Wallis, director of retail marketing, has now taken on his responsibilities.

Pugh also increased focus on product innovation and introduced products such as 4forAll, a pizza with four different toppings, and family sized Big New Yorker, which is 50% bigger for families.

The appointment also follows a major shake-up at Whitbread, which saw several senior management changes. Derkach moved to replace Mark Phillips at Costa after Phillips was shifted to the company’s Pub Restaurants division. Former Pub Restaurant managing director Phil Urban left the company without a job to go to (MW April 27).

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