The chief executive of Yum China, the company that operates KFC and Pizza Hut in China, said on Wednesday that the company’s network of outlets rose through the pandemic, despite the size of its workforce staying the same, reports Caixin. “We increased our stores but without increasing the total number of staff,” said Joey Watt on a call with analysts and investors, highlighting Yum China’s investments in artificial intelligence (AI) and digital technologies to support operations and training.
Many stores now feature touch-screen panels where customers place orders. In several Chinese cities, KFC robots serve up soft serve ice cream cones. Elsewhere, take-out orders can be picked up from digital lockers without contact with staff. Watt noted that the company now has around 420,000 full- and part-time staff, roughly the same number as in 2016 when it was spun off by US parent Yum Brands.
Over that same period, the number of outlets climbed 56%, reaching 11,788 as of December with the addition of a net 1,282 outlets in 2021. Meanwhile, between 2016 and 2021, annual net profits nearly doubled to $990 million, though last year’s figure included a one-off gain from a joint venture in the city of Hangzhou.