Yum China has increased its number of restaurants in China since CEO Joey Wat, pictured, joined the … [+] company in 2014.
A cheerful Colonel Sanders beckons passersby into a KFC at the front of the bustling Shanghai Train Station, just as the fried chicken icon does at more than 4,000 KFCs in the United States. Inside, the restaurant chain’s American faithful would be in for a surprise. Along with U.S. staples such as fried chicken and French fries are offerings you won’t find in other countries, such as tea eggs, salted egg yolk rice rolls, sweet pumpkin congee with lotus seeds, and red bean drink with sweet fermented rice. For the Chinese New Year this month, KFC concocted three new local hotpot-flavored dips to go with its cooked birds: spicy, hot and sour, and tomato.
That spirit of experimentation—it came up with 500 new or updated products last year alone — has helped to turn KFC China’s parent Yum China into the country’s largest restaurant chain with more than 10,500 stores, ahead of rivals McDonalds (around 4,000) and Starbucks (more than 5,000). A push by Shanghai-headquartered Yum China to open another 1,000 new stores this year – adding to the 1,165 it started last year in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic – along with a brisk economic recovery from Covid-19 in China helped lift its New York- and Hong Kong-traded stock to a record close this month. Yum China – spun off from