Yum Brands opened a record number of restaurants last year

The owner of KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Habit opened nearly 4,200 new restaurants worldwide last year, which the company says is an industry record.
Yum Brands restaurant development
Photograph: Shutterstock

The pandemic and supply chain backlog apparently hasn’t kept Yum Brands from opening locations.

The owner of KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Habit opened nearly 4,200 new restaurants worldwide in 2021, which it says is an industry record for unit development. After factoring in closures and replacements, the company’s brands added 3,057 net new restaurants during the year—also an industry record.

Much of the Louisville, Ky.-based company’s development came outside the U.S., particularly in China, where it has been growing with a particular aggressiveness. The company’s new unit development last year led to 6% total unit growth for its four brands combined.

“We opened a new restaurant every two hours,” Yum CEO David Gibbs told investors on Wednesday.

All its brands added locations, notably KFC, which now operates nearly 27,000 global restaurants, making it the fourth-largest brand by unit count in the world following McDonald’s, Subway and Starbucks. That was up 8% from 2020.

Taco Bell, meanwhile, opened 433 new restaurants in 27 countries last year and now operates nearly 7,800 locations, up 5% from 2020. Pizza Hut, meanwhile, opened 1,250 new locations and now operates 18,381 global restaurants, up 4%.

Habit Burger, meanwhile, opened 26 new restaurants last year.

Franchisees operate about 98% of Yum’s more than 53,000 global restaurants.

The company on Wednesday said that all of its brands finished 2021 with same-store sales growth, both globally and in the U.S.

Pizza Hut’s fourth-quarter same-store sales rose 1% in the U.S. and 4% internationally in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. Same-store sales rose 10% on a two-year basis domestically.

Habit’s same-store sales rose 11% for the fourth quarter and on a two-year basis rose 5%.

Taco Bell same-store sales rose 8% in the fourth quarter, and 9% on a two-year basis. Yum said the company’s sales accelerated toward the end of the year.

KFC’s same-store sales rose 4% in the U.S., and 6% internationally. On a two-year basis, domestic same-store sales rose 12%. Yum said sales came from groups ordering buckets of chicken and strong sales of the chain’s chicken sandwich, which now accounts for 9% of the chain’s sales mix.

Much of the brands’ sales growth came thanks to what Gibbs said was a “permanent shift” of consumer traffic to digital channels. Digital sales for the company’s brands nearly doubled in 2021 to $22 billion.

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