Yum Plans Widescale International Growth

The chief executive of the world's largest restaurant operator says it's only “on the ground floor” of international growth

Yum Plans Widescale International Growth

With more than 38,000 restaurants in 117 countries, Yum! Brands Inc. is the largest restaurant operator in the world. But chief executive David Novak said repeatedly at the company’s investor conference this week that Yum is only “on the ground floor” of international growth.

And while Louisville, Ky.-based Yum’s 4,000-plus-unit division in China has provided its most robust sales and unit growth over the past few years, Novak expressed optimism that the new Yum Restaurants India division and nearly 16,000-unit Yum Restaurants International, or YRI, could achieve similar results.

Novak said Yum would have many different paths to grow with KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell in all areas of the world. KFC, for example, would continue to grow rapidly in China, as that country continues to build out its infrastructure, and in other foreign markets with locally relevant menus.

In Yum’s international system, Pizza Hut Casual Dining offers consumers a more traditional dinnerhouse experience beyond pizza, but there still is an opportunity to do a mid-scale breakfast experience and grow average unit volumes, Novak said.

Taco Bell has yet to grow as robustly outside the United States, but will change within the next few years, Novak said. The brand opened in 10 new markets in the past three years.

EARLIER: Taco Bell focuses on future with new taco
Yum outlines 2012 expectations
Yum: International on ‘ground floor of growth’

“It’s going to take us a decade to really get Taco Bell up and running, but that’s OK,” Novak said. “We’re just building the pipeline and we can take our time. We’re acting with urgency, but it takes time to get menus tailored and get the value proposition right. But we will definitely make Taco Bell a global brand some day.”