KFC’s U.S. sales soar as Yum Brands digital sales hits $5B

Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Habit Burger all saw sales recover over 2019 levels while the company opened a record number of global restaurants.
Yum Brands same-store sales
Photo courtesy of KFC

KFC’s U.S. same-store sales took off last quarter, parent company Yum Brands said on Thursday, as the chain sold more chicken sandwiches.

Same-store sales rose 11% in the quarter and 19% on a two-year basis, an acceleration of the chain’s first-quarter trends.  

KFC’s performance in the U.S. led the brand’s overall growth. The nearly 26,000-unit chain’s same-store sales rose 2% on a two-year basis globally behind recovering international comparable store sales—which rose 36% in the quarter. The improved sales also got the company adding more locations. KFC opened 522 new restaurants worldwide in the quarter, which ended June 30.

KFC’s performance came as all four of Yum Brands’ concepts saw sales recover from 2019 levels, in part behind the company’s digital sales. Yum said digital sales topped $5 billion in the quarter and the company added more than 600 new locations—leading the Louisville, Ky.-based brand operator to reinstate its unit growth targets of 4% to 5% a year.

David Gibbs, Yum Brands CEO, said Thursday the chain’s chicken sandwich “performed exceptionally well and provides us with a solid platform to drive additional sales layers in the future.” But he also said that the company’s group occasion business—buckets of chicken—and digital orders also drove business at the chain in the quarter.

At Pizza Hut, which had struggled with weak dine-in sales, the company has pivoted to more takeout, closed weak units and took advantage of a consumer interested in more delivery. Same-store sales rose 9% on a two-year basis in the U.S. last quarter. Internationally, same-store sales remain down 6% from 2019 levels, however.

At Taco Bell, same-store sales rose 12% on a two-year basis and the company opened 91 new restaurants in the period. The Mexican fast-food chain now operates 7,567 global locations.

Same-store sales at Habit Burger Grill rose 31% in the quarter and 7% on a two-year basis.

Yum Brands revenues rose 34% in the quarter to $1.6 billion. Net income rose 89% to $391 million, or $1.29 per share, from $206 million or 67 cents in the same period a year ago.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include more information from Yum's earnings call with analysts Thursday. 

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