It’s not hyperbole to say no restaurant group on record has grown as fast as Yum! Brands is currently. The Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Habit Burger owner opened roughly 8,700 locations in the past two years. That calculates to a store every two hours, across the globe, for 24 straight months, or 730 days. In fiscal 2022—its 25th as a public company—Yum! opened 4,560 gross new units, which topped a previous high mark it set a year earlier at 4,180. 

Factoring in closures, the company netted 6,059 venues over the past two years, with the majority arriving internationally. Another way to spin it: One out of every six Yum! locations you see around the globe were built in the last two years. 

It’s a pace that carried Yum! to 55,683 restaurants at Q1’s exit. CEO David Gibbs, historic or not, told investors the company was far from tapped out. It’s projecting 5 percent net unit growth, 7 percent system sales expansion, and 8 percent core operating growth going forward. In sight—more than 100,000 restaurants worldwide. 

Yum! entered 2023 with record site registration for Taco Bell U.S. stores—which it now believes can scale as large as nearly 14,000-unit McDonald’s (there are 7,216 Taco Bells stateside). Excluding China, the company has more than 80 percent of its planned 2023 stores at KFC and Taco Bell committed with franchise partners.

Yum!’s landscape breaks down across 156 countries and territories, with 98 percent of the stores owned by franchisees, of which there are 1,500. The company touts north of a million employees and generated $59 billion last year in system sales.

So how will Yum! support that frenetic expansion within?

Internally, the broad blueprint has two labels—“Yum! Brands’ Good Growth” strategy, and “Recipe for Good Growth.” 

This strategy is grounded in the idea that our business will only endure if our brands are inclusive, sustainable, and reflective of evolving employee, franchisee, and other stakeholder needs,” Gibbs wrote in a public message. “By focusing on our growth priorities of a people-first culture, bold restaurant development, unmatched operating capability, and relevant brands, we achieved industry-leading unit growth in 2022.”

Status check (all figures year-end 2022, domestic)

Taco Bell

  • Systemwide sales (in millions): $13,850
  • Average-unit volume (in thousands): $1,900
  • Franchised units: 6,734
  • Corporate units: 464
  • Total units: 7,198
  • Change in units from 2021: 196



  • Systemwide sales (in millions): $5,100
  • Average-unit volume (in thousands): $1,341
  • Franchised units: 3,872
  • Corporate units: 46
  • Total units: 3,918
  • Change in units from 2021: –35


Pizza Hut

  • Systemwide sales (in millions): $5,500
  • Average-unit volume (in thousands): $1,033
  • Franchised units: 6,540
  • Corporate units: 21
  • Total units: 6,561
  • Change in units from 2021: 13


Habit Burger

  • Systemwide sales (in millions): $700
  • Average-unit volume (in thousands): $2,006
  • Franchised units: 52
  • Corporate units: 286
  • Total units: 338
  • Change in units from 2021: 31


Let’s focus on the people side, which Yum! shared in its annual global Citizenship and Sustainability Report, released Tuesday.

As of the end of 2022, the company committed about $50 million to help fund more than 30 social impact programs in 11 countries. 

Every employee is required to certify Yum!’s “Global Code of Conduct” as part of annual compliance training, which also covers anti-discrimination and harassment. Yum! tapped an independent, third-party-operated ethics hotline and online portal, known as The Speak Up Helpline, for employees to reach 24/7. It’s translated across nine different languages. 

In recent years, however, this wider movement to foster culture and talent at Yum! has been characterized by newly refined values, and an “EIB [equity, inclusion and belonging] mindset,” the company said.

Yum! implemented EIB leaders across its brands to watch over progress. Execs at the senior director level and above are held accountable to increase representation of women in leadership and people of color in U.S. stores.

Yum! struck several cross-sector partnerships, like Hispanic Promise, which is a national pledge to hire, promote, retain, and celebrate Hispanics in the workplaces; and the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusions. As a member of OneTen Coalition, Yum! teams with other U.S. businesses to create career mobility and advancement opportunities for a million Black/African-America individuals over 10 years. In 2022, Yum! was among the organization’s highest-performing partners in terms of the number of new hires and promotions at its equity-owned restaurants and corporate offices, the company said.

Yum! also partnered with OneTen and edtech company Multiverse last year to offer a 12–18-month apprenticeship program that gives workers the opportunity to learn technology skills needed to pursue full-time roles in corporate digital and tech functions.

In regard to gender equality, Yum! posted a goal Tuesday to achieve parity in leadership globally by 2030—a path it’s working alongside Paradigm for Parity on. The company’s present senior leadership is 43 percent women.

KFC launched the “Next Generation of Women,” or NOW, program last year to accelerate development. It’s designed to help advance women to the director level and above through recruiting practices and a structure plan that uses insights from Yum!’s “Heartstyles” platform. Yum! said Tuesday it’s now rolling NOW to other brands.

In 2023, the company held its second Refresh Inspire Spark Engage (RISE) event, formerly dubbed, “The New Legacy Summit.” The in-person gathering brought together Black and Hispanic employees at the director level and higher, along with Yum!’s executive team. The goal being to open forum for debate and to solidify the career ladder. 

Further, Yum! created a program called MidRISE, which is essentially a bridge to RISE, for select “underrepresented people of color” at mid-level manager roles. They begin with two days of professional development and community building and continue throughout the calendar with additional skill exercises and group mentoring.

Pizza Hut touts a “Slice Of” series that recognizes diverse stories among employees. Workers share backgrounds and stories with peers, which Yum! said proved “a powerful platform for building empathy, connection, and a community where people feel valued for who they are.”

The company’s Business Employee Resource Groups grew in 2022 as well, with Yum!’s women’s and LGBTQ+-focused functions launching international chapters. 

Taco Bell
Taco Bell recently launched new uniforms with Brooklyn-based artist Ricardo Gonzalez.

Training and franchise growth

In March 2020, Yum! acquired Heartstyles after years of partnership. The deal gave Yum! a leadership platform to shore up talent from within. Its ultimate goal was to spread Heartstyles, created by married couple Stephen and Mara Klemich, to its 1,500-plus franchisees (the option is now offered to operators and RGMs at all four brands worldwide). The primary feature of the program is a “Heartstyles Indicator,” which is an assessment and action plan that helps employees cultivate a path forward. Yum! on Tuesday said, since the 2020 acquisition, more than 600 Certified Practitioners have been trained and 30,000 Indicators completed across six continents. Recent research at KFC in multiple markets revealed restaurants that have Heartstyles appreciate lower staff turnover, reduced onboarding costs, and greater customers satisfaction, Yum! said. 

Yum! also offers “Coach Academy,” a global, virtual program for managers; and “Leadership Accel,” which enables employees to grow as strategic thinkers. 

“We continue to roll out Inclusive Leadership, a training program designed to challenge perceptions and demonstrate the holistic benefits that inclusion brings to our operations,” Yum! added. The program, developed in partnership with Heartstyles, was offered to corporate employees, RGMs, and franchisees, and should expand globally by the end of 2025.

Into the future, every above-restaurant employee at Yum! will make a personal commitment to EIB and revisit those goals during reviews.

There are six-month mentorship arrangements to help connect all levels. KFC hosts that option globally and more are coming.

Education assistance remains a key lever, too. The KFC Foundation recently announced a partnership with online Western Governors University to offer employees paid tuition. Participants choose among more than 60 different bachelor’s and master’s degrees and certification programs. It’s a non-competitive arrangement, meaning every eligible employee who applies and enrolls can receive tuition coverage. And it’s available day one on the job. WGU offers rolling start dates, so prospective students enroll at any time and begin online courses as soon as they’re ready 

Given Yum! is a 98 percent franchised organization, operators at the store level control how they recruit and train, what benefits to provide, and what kind of compensation they want to lean into. Although the case, Yum! said “it offer[s] tools to help increase team member engagement and retention,” and that it “provide[s] industry-leading incentives for new development, assistance with site selection and design, and flexible asset formats to meet a variety of needs.”

This is really a process that’s taken two main forms of late.

Yum! in May 2021 unveiled its Center for Global Franchise Excellence at the University of Louisville. Existing and prospective franchisees tap online education focused on the franchising model (and specifically see doors open to Yum!). During the 2021–2022 school year, 170 students completed the Yum! Franchise Management Certificate Program.

Then, Yum!’s Franchise Accelerator is an MBA elective program that, through the Center, focuses on recruiting and educating underrepresented people of color and women. This past spring, it welcomed MBA students from Louisville and Howard University. All 10 received a $10,000 scholarship from Yum! and the opportunity to learn about franchising with the company. Two were given the chance to become future operators.

For anybody interested in becoming Taco Bell restaurant leaders, there’s also a six-week Taco bell Business School program designed to offer a head start. It recently completed its fourth cohort.

Beyond the Center, though, Yum! has other plans to connect franchisees with potential ownership. In early 2013, impact-based investment firm Lafayette Square announced it would lend up to $50 million to new and existing underrepresented Yum! operators as part of a new financing program labeled “Franchise Fast Start.” It came just about a year after the introduction of Yum!’s aforementioned Franchise Accelerator. 

Overall, Yum! is on a five-year Unlocking Opportunity Initiative it announced in 2020 that commits $100 million. As of 2022, it’s earmarked about $50 million of those funds. 

Some brand highlights:

A Pizza Hut in Delhi, India, recently opened as a fully women-run restaurant. Similar initiatives are in place in Bangladesh and Ethiopia. Pizza Hut South Africa has a LeadHERship platform that matches women aged 18–25 from marginalized communities with 12-month job placements in health services, creative fields, literacy, and education roles. Throughout the year, women participate in month catchups with program facilities and have access to mentors and learning courses. After. Year, they leave with a curriculum vitae, reference letter, and experience they can leverage for their careers. The program placed more than 100 women last year.

Stateside, Pizza Hut’s famed BOOK IT! Reading program has been around since 1984. Across 2021–2022, more than 3.5 million students enrolled. Pizza Hut continues to offer the BOOK IT! Bundle, which is a meal deal that donates $1 from every purchase to its nonprofit literacy partner, First Book, to provide access to books and educational resources. It raised north of $2.5 million over the past year.

At KFC, the chain’s U.K. business recently pledged that by 2023, a third of new hires would be young people who have faced barriers to employment. With UK Youth, KFC plans to offer training and work experience to help 6,000 young people get job interviews.

KFC in Germany partnered with socialbee to create opportunities for refugee women. It offers skills and language training, and other support, to match women with jobs at KFC locations. KFC France also partnered with Second Chance School to give job skills to unemployed youth.

In 2022, the Taco Bell Foundation worked with franchise owners to award $10 million in grants to charities focused on youth education in communities where employees live and work. These grants supported everything from college to financial literacy. More than $8 million Live Mas Scholarships were handed to over 770 Taco bell employees and consumers. The company held its first conference designed to offer 100 Live Mas Scholarships a dedicated space to network. To wrap up the year, the Foundation and Taco Bell introduced the “Ambition Accelerator,” a competition for social impact entrepreneurs. 

Nearly 300 submissions arrived Year 1. Twenty-six were selected to attend an immersive experience at Taco Bell HQ, where they learned how to budget and use social media. Each received $1,500 in seed funding, with five invited to a pitch competition for a chance to secure $25,000. The first grand prize winner was 23-year-old Chicago native Sparkle Whitaker, who created Onyx Incubator, a free, virtual program offering workshops on creativity to youth who have experienced incarceration or qualify for alternatives to detention centers.

The Habit Burger Grill recently launched its first social purpose committee and was the 2022 national sponsor of the ProStart Cup, a restaurant entrepreneurship and culinary competition hosted by the California Restaurant Association (CRA) that awards more than half a million dollars in scholarships.

Some other highlights from the report:


On track toward commitment to transition to 100 percent cage-free eggs for 25,000 restaurants by 2026, including the U.S., Western Europe and other leading markets, across all brands and for all menu items and ingredients. 

KFC rolled out its global chicken welfare platform and published chicken welfare reports for both the U.S. and Western Europe. 

Pizza Hut continues to make progress on plant-based offerings worldwide, with plant-based protein toppings available in 17 countries and vegan cheeses available in Europe. 

Taco Bell continues to invest in research and sector engagements within the beef supply chain to reduce the use of antibiotics important to human health in its U.S. and Canada beef sourcing. 


Continued to make progress against science-based targets that include achieving a 57 percent absolute reduction in corporate restaurants and offices (Scope 1 & 2) compared to 2019, and a 25 percent reduction in per-restaurant emissions in franchise restaurants (Scope 3) compared to 2019.

Conducted a global renewable energy study covering more than 10 countries and a majority of its electricity emissions to support progress on Yum!’s climate transition roadmap. 

Published harmonized, cross brand packaging policy to help drive focus on packaging priorities.

Pizza Hut reached its goal of sourcing 50 percent of the dairy used to make its pizza cheese in the U.S. from dairy farms enrolled in an environmental stewardship program—two years ahead of schedule. 

Taco Bell announced a partnership with Cargill and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to address the environmental impacts of cattle grazing.

Employee Management, Fast Food, Restaurant Operations, Story, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, The Habit Burger, Yum! Brands