Yum plans doubling of sites by 2020

Yum Brands Inc, parent company of KFC and Pizza Hut, will spend 27 billion baht to double its total outlets in Thailand to 1,000 by 2020.

David Novak, the chairman and chief executive, said the company is continuing to expand and invest in Thailand because the country is urbanising.

Thailand is only 35% urbanised compared with 80% in the US and Malaysia. It is expected urbanistion could reach 52% in Thailand by 2020.

"Global quick-serve food brands with sophisticated and healthier products are required to fulfil the needs of urban lifestyles throughout Thailand," he said during a Bangkok visit to celebrate the company's 500th restaurant in Thailand.

Furthermore, the implementation of the Asean Economic Community in 2015 will make the region a more interesting place for investors.

"This will eventually lead to immense economic growth among Asean members. Most Asean markets are consumption-driven, which will benefit our company," said Mr Novak.

Yum is a New York Stock Exchange-listed company based in Louisville, Kentucky. The company was spun off by PepsiCo in 1997.

Yum has been in Thailand for 28 years. Its additional investment in the country will create 14,000 new jobs, bringing total company employment in Thailand to 28,000 by 2020.

"Thailand has become more and more important. We made tremendous growth for the past four years. That's why we are confident in the future. Thailand's economy is growing very fast," he added.

Currently, Thailand is one of Yum's top-ten markets. Its KFC and Pizza Hut outlets are highly regarded by Thai customers, said Mr Novak.

Thai subsidiary Yum Restaurants International (Thailand) Co operates 500 outlets across the country _ 430 KFCs and 70 Pizza Huts.

Yum directly operates all Pizza Hut restaurants. About 65% of KFCs are Yum operated and the remaining 35% are run by Central Restaurants Group, a franchisee.

"There is no way we can get it done by ourselves in this business. We have to be able to take people with us to make big things happen. This is a key to our success," he said.

Sales of Yum worldwide last year were US$13 billion, of which 60% came from emerging markets.

Yum believes it is insulated from the global downturn, as people need to eat.

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Writer: Pitsinee Jitpleecheep
Position: Business Reporter