KFC, a US-based fast food chain, regards India as a growth market and will continue to expand its restaurant network in the country despite the COVID-19 pandemic bringing structural changes in the business. It’s looking forward at adding new outlets this year as it looks to enhance access of the brand to its consumers.
Samir Menon, KFC India Managing Director, told PTI that their intent is definitely to keep growing the brand. “One of our biggest strategic pillars is what we call as access. We have to ensure that access to the brand continues to grow for the consumers, both physical and digital.”
Despite the COVID-19 disruptions, Menon said “We actually have more restaurants now than we had in pre-COVID. During the course of the year, our franchise have opened new restaurants. So we actually are a bigger business now than we were in pre-COVID in terms of number of restaurants.”
Before the pandemic, KFC India had a restaurant count of about 450 and at present, it has over 480 restaurants in more than 130 cities across India. “We believe very strongly in the India story and we don’t really have any doubt that India is definitely going to be a growth market for KFC in the coming years. Definitely, it was a tough year but it hasn’t deterred us from that intent,” Menon explained.
In regards to physical access perspective, he pointed out that the company continuously identifies new trade areas and potential areas and starts setting up restaurants there through its franchise partners. “Physical access is definitely going to be a key part of growth strategy. As the year goes, a better sense of what kind of numbers we are trying to chase will emerge. It will be more than 25 for sure,” Menon said.
With the pandemic bringing about a change in consumer behaviour with online orders and off-premise consumption growth, KFC India has also accelerated its efforts to address the changing consumer needs.
“I do feel our online portion of business would have grown at least by 50% between pre and post-COVID and that has also led us to a larger shift in the way we are communicating with the consumers, a part of it is the aggregators and part of it is our own assets,” he said.
Menon added that more than half of the company’s sales were on premise in pre-pandemic times and in post-COVID, delivery has seen a huge growth with over two-thirds of the business now moving to off premise, including takeaway.