South Africa has the fifth most KFCs in the world

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is the most prolific fast-food brand in South Africa, with the American fried chicken giant boasting 1,052 stores in the country – the fifth-largest market globally.

KFC first opened its doors 75 years ago when the famous Colonel Harland Sanders created a recipe for fried chicken with a list of 11 secret herbs and spices scratched out on the back of his kitchen door.

Today, the company still follows this recipe in its 27,000 restaurants in over 145 countries and territories around the world.

KFC has rapidly grown, with a new restaurant opening somewhere in the world every six hours.

South Africa has not been excluded from this growth, as the American fast-food giant now has 1,052 stores in the country.

However, its growth in South Africa has been far from easy. KFC had to contend with international sanctions and stiff local competition.

KFC launched in South Africa in 1971 and grew quickly around the country. This growth was halted in 1987 as the company was forced to divest its outlets and trademarks to a South African holding company called Devco.

This was after the US Congress passed a law forbidding American companies from owning South African assets due to the government’s policy of Apartheid.

KFC continued to earn an administrative fee from Devco, and its 120 franchisee-owned stores were unaffected.

The company reacquired its former assets when sanctions were lifted in 1994. By then, there were around 300 KFC outlets in the country.

KFC has since grown into South Africa’s largest fast-food outlet, with 1,052 stores in the country, according to its owner Yum! Brands’ financial results for the third quarter of 2023.

Only 49 are directly owned by the company, and the other 1,003 are franchisee-owned. The company has grown by 44 stores in the past year.

The fried chicken giant is also the most popular fast-food brand in the country, with 10 million South Africans eating there at least once in the past four weeks, according to a study by Eighty20.

KFC has been owned by Yum! Brands since 1986, which brought together KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell in one company.

Pizza Hut also has stores in South Africa, albeit a meagre 49, while Taco Bell has none.

KFC’s largest markets

China is KFC’s largest market by some distance, with the company having 9,917 stores in the world’s second-largest economy.

In second place is the United States, which has 3,890 stores and in third is Japan, with 1,210 stores.

South Africa has rapidly grown to become KFC’s fifth-largest market with 1,052 stores, ahead of more developed countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany, which have 1,001 and 200 stores, respectively.

Below is a table of KFC’s top 10 markets, according to Yum! Brands’ financial results for the third quarter of 2023.

Country  Number of stores
China 9,917
United States 3,890
Japan 1,210
Thailand 1,053
South Africa 1,052
United Kingdom 1,001
India 950
Malaysia 770
Australia 759
Indonesia 749

This article was first published by Daily Investor and is reproduced with permission.

Now read: KFC launches first high-tech restaurant in South Africa

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South Africa has the fifth most KFCs in the world