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KFC sees growth potential in emerging overseas markets.

KFC sees potential to triple in size, predicting “Buckets of Growth” in the long-term

In a Yum brands global investor day, KFC also unveiled driver tracking system technology and augmented reality training

KFC sees the potential to triple in size in the coming years, especially in overseas markets, the Yum Brands fried chicken chain revealed in a Yum Global Investor Day Tuesday. This growth trajectory could yield more than the projected 4% annual unit growth for Yum. 

According to Yum investor day, 90% of the company’s growth in the last five years has been from overseas markets, with 70% of growth coming from outside of the US and China. Much of the unit growth has also been in emerging markets like India.

Here are more key takeaways from KFC’s global investor day:

KFC will open one store every five hours this year

To give an idea of the scale of KFC’s growth over the past year and potential moving forward, the quick-service chain plans to almost triple in size from 25,292 to 75,000, with a new store opening every five hours in 2021. Over the last two quarters alone, the company has opened 700 units. The strength of this growth projection is aided by “attractive unit-level returns for franchisees, a flexible real estate strategy” and opportunities in emerging markets globally, including Africa, Russia, the Middle East, and India, according to analysis from Baird Equity Research.

Digital sales have more than doubled since the pandemic began

Like the rest of the restaurant industry, KFC leaned heavily on digital channels in 2020, with digital sales increasing by $4 billion from 20% to 43% of transactions, KFC revealed Tuesday.  Digital growth has increased by 72% to $10 billion in sales in 2020, with another $3 billion in digital sales already in 2021.

KFC is rolling out new technologies

KFC is investing in convenience technologies to ease friction for customers and employees, including a driver tracking system for restaurant managers to track driver availability/location and for customers to check in on their orders. The company is also rolling out temperature-regulating Bluetooth sensors for kitchens, augmented reality glasses for employee training, and investing in robotics for “broader applicability and scaling potential.”

Plant-based chicken is being piloted in eight markets

KFC’s first plant-based protein, Beyond Fried Chicken, was first tested out in July 2020 in select California markets and now the company is “actively rolling out” the plant-based fried chicken product to eight markets globally through pilot programs of full-on product launches:

“We’re definitely seeing customer increase interest in plant-based proteins in North America, Europe and Asia,” a KFC representative said during Tuesday’s investor day. “It’s broad-reaching and we’re excited about the opportunity.”

Contact Joanna at [email protected]

Find her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi

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