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Popeyes plans to take on China

The chicken chain inks a 1,500-unit deal, becoming the latest concept to make a bet on the fast-growing market.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen wants in on rival KFC’s biggest market: China.

The fast-food chicken chain, owned by the Toronto-based Restaurant Brands International, announced a deal with TFI TAB Food Investments, or TFI, to develop 1,500 units in the country over the next decade.

In doing so, it hopes to get a foothold into a market long dominated by Louisville, Ky.-based KFC, which operates more than 6,000 locations there. But it’s also the last of RBI’s three concepts to sign such a deal.

Burger King, RBI’s burger concept, operates more than 1,000 locations in the country. Tim Hortons, meanwhile, opened its first location in the country in February.

“We are very excited to grow the Popeyes brand in the Chinese market,” Josh Kobza, chief operating officer of RBI, said in a statement.

It’s also the latest test for Restaurant Brands’ ultra-fast growth strategy on Popeyes, a brand it bought in 2017 with the explicit hope of developing around the world more quickly. The brand operates 3,100 locations in more than 25 countries.

That unit count has grown by 6.6% in the past 12 months. And though the brand believes that it has room to grow domestically, it believes there is even more potential globally, thanks to the popularity of chicken.

“We have a growing international presence and a significant opportunity to ramp up development around the world,” Felipe Athayde, president of Popeyes, said during a presentation to analysts in May. “What gives us confidence is the clear demand for chicken consumption globally and the ability for our core product offerings to travel well into different markets.”

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