KFC franchiser aims for 800 outlets in Thailand by 2020

5_KFC5The Thai franchiser of United States fast food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken said last week it is aiming for at least 800 restaurants in the Kingdom by 2020, up from an expected 585 by the end of this year, as it franchised 130 outlets to a company owned by Thai and Asian investors last week.

One the most globally famous American fast food restaurants, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is the leader in the quick serve restaurant market in Thailand. Waewkanee Assoratgoon, general manager of Yum Restaurants International (Thailand), which is the franchiser of KFC in Thailand, said her company would transfer 130 stores to Restaurant Development Company Limited (RDCL) by the end of this year. Yum also franchises 205 KFC outlets to Central Restaurant Group of Thailand, while managing the remaining 300-plus shops on its own.

RDCL is a joint venture of Thai and Asian investors with its headquarters in Bangkok. It has appointed a management team led by the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Industrial Growth Fund, whose sponsors include Mitsubishi Corporation and the Development Bank of Japan.

“The deal will support the brand’s growth strategy to 800 stores in Thailand by 2020 or an additional 215 stores from 2016,” she said.

Under the agreement, RDCL will run the 130 stores and obtain the rights to open 100 new KFC outlets in Bangkok and southern Thailand. The 130 stores employ over 3,000 Thai staff.

“I am excited to have this tremendous opportunity to expand this outstanding brand together,” said Andrew Norton, the chief executive officer of RDCL, and who is experienced in the fast food business in Australia and Thailand. “We have a strong organization, the financial resources and entrepreneurial vision to help KFC Thailand achieve its goals and we look forward to a bright future. We will ensure faster KFC growth than ever before.”

According to market research and brand tracking firm Millward Brown, KFC dominated the Thai fast food sector through the first half of 2016 with a 65 percent market share. Although the fast food market has experienced slower growth this year, KFC has already exceeded its sales targets for 2016, demonstrating the robustness of the brand.

KFC has been operating in Thailand for 32 years, having opened its first outlet in Bangkok in 1984 at Central Lad Phrao mall, just as Western fast food was taking hold in the Kingdom. At the time, it was considered a bold and risky move, as many in the industry believed that Thai consumer tastes were very different from those of Westerners and so the brand might not succeed. Today, the company has branches in 74 of Thailand’s 77 provinces.