Yum! is Building Restaurants at an Unprecedented Pace

Right before Yum! Brands finished its Q4 earnings call with investors, CEO David Gibbs tossed out a fact that put the brand’s unit growth into perspective.

Nearly 25 percent of all current Yum! locations have been built in the past three years. Given the company ended 2023 with 58,708 locations worldwide—extending its claim as the largest restaurant group in the world—roughly 15,000 of them are 3 years old or younger.

“It gives you a sense for, first of all, the condition of our asset base around the world and how new it feels given the age of the brands, but also the commitment that our franchisees have to this business,” Gibbs said during Yum!’s Q4 earnings call. “They’re investing their capital in building those stores. … That’s gross new units, so a lot of those stores replaced the stores that had reached the end of their useful life. So it shows their commitment to the next 20-30 years of the brand. They have been fantastic partners. They’ve always been our competitive advantage.”

In 2023, Yum! opened an industry record 4,754 gross restaurants. That’s equivalent to 13 store openings per day or one every two hours. In the fourth quarter alone, the company debuted 1,853 gross units. On a net basis, Yum! added 3,347 outlets in 2023.

Additionally, Yum! exceeded $60 billion in companywide sales for the first time. More than 45 percent of that was digital, or about $30 billion on an absolute dollar basis. Yum!’s proprietary online ordering platform has been deployed to KFC U.S. and Taco Bell U.S. and is in the process of being implemented at Pizza Hut U.S.

This year will bring more milestones. Yum! is set to become the first restaurant company to surpass 60,000 outlets globally. KFC will reach 30,000 and Pizza Hut will surpass 20,000.

“We are very confident in the pace of development. The pipeline has never looked better for us,” Gibbs said. “Obviously, it varies country by country, but franchisees are getting great returns. … We have a lot of good visibility into the pipeline, the development agreements that we’ve struck with franchisees. And the way we’re evolving our asset types, I think is another tailwind for us on development.”

SOURCE: QSR Magazine

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