KFC opened 55 locations in the United States in 2021. With a network of four, it marked the first schedule of positive domestic growth in 17 years for the classic brand. Beyond the expansion inflection, which development director Brian Cahoe said RSQ would carry until 2022 (KFC US opened 14 new stores in the first quarter of 2022, up from 21 since the start of the year), it also marked the beginning of a new image era. Today, around 25% of the brand’s pipeline is classified into what KFC calls “Next-Gen” designs. First introduced in November 2020 and launching in Q4 2021 (Berea, Ky.), the store leverages digital onboarding, beacons for offsite activities, contactless options, and in some cases, the dual drive-thru that can accommodate added capacity or dedicated digital lanes.
The only reason the 25% figure isn’t higher is that 2022 represents some kind of transition period due to construction and general delays. KFC’s “American Showman” update, known for its red and white stripes and bucket chandeliers, is about 70% of the system up to date since last year.
Soon, however, all new construction and all new formats, suburban or downtown, will be next-generation assets.
Click here for a preview of when some models open and what the future holds.
Not pictured is what recently dropped at Painted Post, New York. Dubbed “The Crystal Bucket”, KFC has opened one of its most daring restaurants in the footprint. The 40-seat, 2,542-square-foot store was developed by KBP Brands and inspired by nearby Corning’s heritage as a glass manufacturer.
The original building was the former bank of the Chemung Canal Trust Company. KFC put a “vault door ‘inside'”which houses the Colonel’s blend of 11 herbs and spices,” as a tribute. The unit also has a modern curved design, light-filled windows with floor-to-ceiling glass and simple hanging glass pendants with a wooden cathedral ceiling.
Plus, it includes next-gen features like such as bow-tie chairs, built-in “Quick Pick-Up” shelving, signage, and dedicated parking for KFC app or KFC.com orders.
KFC’s Q1 System sales increased 9%, driven by unit growth of 8% and comparable store sales growth of 3%. In the US, comps were up 1%.
As a business, Yum! added 997 gross units, resulting in 628 net new units and unit growth of 6%, year over year. Over 500 gross units and 261 net new units opened outside of China. KFC and Pizza Hut delivered 587 and 334 gross units opened, respectively. Taco Bell’s Q1 System sales increased 8% on unit growth of 5% and same-store sales expansion of 5%. Domestic comps were up 5 percent.
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