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Why U.S. restaurant brands are focusing so heavily on international expansion


KFC’s newest restaurant in Rome, Italy, marks the company’s 30,000th global location. The company announced the milestone yesterday, noting that a new KFC location opens somewhere in the world every 3.5 hours on average.

“Opening our 30,000th restaurant is a testament to the support of our local business partners, employees, and customers over the past nearly 75 years,” Sabir Sami, CEO of KFC Global, said in a statement.  "While we are a global brand, we aim to meet the unique needs and expectations of our guests on a local level, with menus that resonate with the local culture and flavors of each community. That also includes serving local communities through our food donation and upskilling programs, which operate in many of our markets, including Italy."

In 2023, KFC opened nearly 2,7000 restaurants across 96 countries, a 10% development pace and setting a brand development record. More than 80% of unit growth came from 15 publicly traded franchisees. KFC accounts for nearly 50% of parent company Yum Brands’ divisional operating growth.

During Yum’s most recent earnings call last month, executives called out several standout markets for the brand. China, India, Thailand, South Africa, and Spain drove KFC's development during 2023 and were part of a group of 15 countries that grew unit count by more than 25 restaurants. Further, KFC plans to enter its 150th country later this year.

TAGS: First Bite
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