More on Yum!: Growth, digital, Russia impact
Q1 was another record-busting development period for the Pizza Hut, KFC, and Habit Burger owner. Yum! added 997 gross units, resulting in 628 net-new units, and 6 percent unit growth, year-over-year. More than 500 gross units and 261 net new units opened outside of China. KFC and Pizza Hut delivered 587 and 334 gross units opened, respectively.
Digital sales company-wide hiked 15 percent to $6 billion, with digital mix exceeding 40 percent of sales.
KFC’s Q1 system sales lifted 9 percent, driven by 8 percent unit growth, and 3 percent same-store sales growth. In the U.S., comps upped 1 percent.
KFC’s stateside efforts in recent months have centered on convenience and off-premises-centric marketing, including the chain’s “Quick Pick-Up” shelves and white-label delivery. The former is fully deployed across the U.S. footprint and roughly a third of Habit Burger’s.
Taco Bell also recently debuted a similar program and will continue to deploy it more widely in coming quarters, Turner said. He noted delivery and early Quick Pick-Up tests are relieving drive-thru capacity, where Taco Bell has turned in nine straight quarters of average drive-thru times under 4 minutes.
Gibbs added KFC’s Beyond Fried Chicken, featured in Q1, resulted in more media impressions than any other product launch in brand history.
Taco Bell’s Q1 system sales hiked 8 percent on 5 percent unit growth and 5 percent same-store sales expansion. Domestic comps increased 5 percent. Yum! is installing a new kitchen display system and smart hub at the brand, and leveraging its cloud-based POS with the goal of modernizing employee experience and providing more digital capabilities, Turner said. These systems separate delivery orders from standard drive-thru ones.
KFC recently expanded its “Mobile Manager” back-of-house suite that simplified ordering, inventory management, and digital order fulfillment as well.
Taco Bell leaned on value in Q1 by introducing $2 burritos to its new Cravings Value Menu, which focuses on box and combo offerings and joined the company’s existing $1 menu offering.
The Habit’s comps climbed 3 percent as it opened 13 gross new restaurants in the U.S. and Cambodia.
Overall, Gibbs said he believes the U.S. consumer is in good shape. Yet similar to comments shared by McDonald’s last week, there is extra care being taken with lower-income customers and making sure value is available at the entry point.
“But as far as the consumer and how's their behavior in this environment, some of the other things to think about are the fast-casual category has grown a lot,” Gibbs said. “We expect that if there's cutting back, that there'll be some trade down from fast casual back into [quick service], which will be favorable for us, particularly Taco Bell, which I think is well positioned to capture some of those visits.”
“But it all comes back to this theme of the [quick-service] industry is built on convenience and value,” he continued. “Convenience and value win in any environment, particularly when you couple it with our great brands and innovative products that we're constantly introducing.”
In regard to the Ukraine crisis, Gibbs said Yum! activated its Disaster Relief Fund to support Ukrainian franchise employees and is matching employee donations to organizations providing relief. The company noted earlier it would suspend all investment and development efforts in Russia, as well as operations of company-owned KFC restaurants. Also, it’s finalizing an agreement with its Pizza Hut master franchisee to suspend all restaurant operations.
Gibbs said Yum! has now begun a process aimed at transferring ownership to local operators while, in the interim, it continues to redirect profits from Russia operations to humanitarian aid. “This is not a decision we take lightly and I know that it will be a complicated process to execute these transactions,” Gibbs said.
Core operating profit decreased 5 percent in Q1, including a negative impact from Russia of 1 percent.
Were it not for the loss of Russia profits, Turner said, Yum! would deliver on all elements of its long-term growth algorithm in 2022. “However, losing 3 percent of full-year core operating profit from the exclusion of Russia profits puts us outside of our high single-digit core operating profit range this year, with our current forecast closer to mid-single-digit core operating profit growth,” he said.