With new owner, KFC Korea plans 300-store expansion

KFC Korea will open 300 more stores by 2023 to compete more effectively with homegrown chicken restaurant franchises, says its CEO.

It plans to hire nearly 1000 workers to staff the outlets. It now directly runs all its 214 stores in South Korea.

CEO Eom Ik-soo says direct management helps ensure quality consistency as well as allow for more effective implementation of marketing strategies.

He says the company is in a better position to achieve sustainable growth after being acquired in March by fertiliser supplier KG Group.

“When the brand was owned by a private equity fund, it wasn’t easy to draw up long-term business strategies because the investment fund is largely interested in maximising short-term profits,” Eom says. “But under KG Group, KFC can invest more, hire workers and contribute more to improving local communities. We can also create synergies with KG Inicis [electronic payments] and other group units.”

KFC Korea opened its first store in Seoul in 1984. Hong Kong-based fund CVC Capital Partners paid Doosan Group nearly 100 billion won (US$88 million) for the brand in 2014, selling it to KG for half that amount.

Last year’s sales for the fast-food chain reached 177 billion won, but incurred a 12.2-billion won operating loss.

“We failed to turn things around in the first half of this year,” says Eom, “but we are positive the company will be in the black in the second half.”

Plans include strengthening a mobile sales platform for KFC to attract more mobile-savvy young consumers.

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