KFC Keith Warren

Taking wing: KFC’s big ambitions for Africa

KFC is building on its highly successful base in South Africa, where it has 590 restaurants, the sixth highest in the 110 countries in which Yum! operates KFC. Keith Warren (left), KFC Africa’s MD, has a tough task: to take KFC in Africa to the same level of success it has reached in China.

Setting this challenge is US-based Yum! Brands, KFC’s owner and the world’s largest restaurant chain, reports the Financial Mail.

“David Novak [Yum! CEO] has told me to take the business and become the Sam Su of Africa,” says Warren, referring to Jing-Shyh (Sam) Su, who over the past 17 years has built KFC in China from scratch into the country’s most recognised restaurant brand.

Spearheaded by KFC, Yum! China encompasses some 4500 restaurants and, though this is only 12% of Yum’s total restaurant empire, in 2011 it generated US$5,6bn of the group’s $12,6bn revenue and 40% of its operating profit of $2,2bn before corporate costs.

Warren is aiming even higher. “I believe KFC’s potential in Africa is greater than it is in China,” says Warren. “There is a far higher propensity to consume chicken in Africa than there is in China.”

KFC is building on what Warren terms “a highly successful” base in SA, where it has 590 restaurants, the sixth highest in the 110 countries in which Yum! operates KFC. It is also building off a completely revamped business model.

“Eight months ago we [KFC Africa] shifted from a franchise-only model to one in which we will own stores and take equity stakes in some franchised stores,” says Warren. As a first step, 68 KFC stores have just been acquired from an Investec private equity fund and 40 more company-owned stores are to be built in SA in 2012, he adds.

For Warren, a 17-year KFC veteran, the African drive is the culmination of a personal vision. “It took over five years to convince Yum! that Africa has huge potential,” he says. “Now they are sold on the idea and it is gaining traction rapidly.”…..

Financial Mail: Read the full article