In 2021 a new KFC opened every four hours, most of them in China

Yum Brands, the owner of big chains like Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Pizza Hut, opened 4,180 new locations last year, an expansion pace that CEO David Gibbs described to investors as an industry record.

“In my 32 years in this business, I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said on the company’s Feb. 9 quarterly earnings call.

The biggest increase came from Kentucky Fried Chicken International, which opened more than 2,400 locations while closing roughly 400. In other words, a new KFC restaurant was opened about every four hours. (Including Yum’s other brands, the company averaged a new location every two hours.)

About 40% of the new KFC openings were in China, where the Louisville, Kentucky-based brand and its parent company have had their ups and downs.

Including location closures across its brands, Yum expanded its global restaurant count by 3,057 last year, to a total of roughly 53,000.

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