(Yicai Global) Feb. 8 -- The grand investments that Yum! Brands, American food joint operator that runs chains such as KFC and Pizza Hut, carried out by opening a slew of new restaurants in China last year, have paid off as KFC sales in China surged beyond that of the US.
The sales of KFCs in China rose 13 percent to USD5.5 billion last year from the year before, the Kentucky-based company's earnings report for the full year of 2018, which was released yesterday, shows. The market made up 27 percent of global sales, leaving the home turf second by a lead of 10 percentage points.
Pizza Hut logged a more modest growth at 1 percent to USD2.1 billion in China. The brand made up 17 percent of the parent's global sales.
"In 2018, KFC stepped up new store openings to capture the opportunities for growth in underserved and attractive markets across China," said Joey Wat, the chief executive of Yum China Holdings, during an earnings call regarding the fourth quarter in late January.
Nearly 36 percent of all the over 1,550 KFC restaurants that Yum! Brands opened last year were in China, while bringing the total number to more than 5,900. Over 150 Pizza Huts were established in China during the same time, or 18 percent of all the firm's new openings during the year, while lifting the tally to 2,240.
A surge in the use of digital payment methods, partly coming from food takeout orders, has been one of the vehicles for growth. The company launched its own KFC Privilege Subscription program last July and almost two million members have registered so far for the delivery scheme, Wat added.
Yum China Holdings [NYSE: YUMC] advanced 1.34 percent to close at USD41.66 yesterday. Yum! Brands [NYSE: YUM] rose 0.021 percent to end the day at USD94.61.
Editor: Emmi Laine