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This Chicken Chain Opened Its 25,000th Location During the Pandemic

Undeterred by a difficult year, the beloved brand has achieved a long-awaited milestone.

During the unprecedented year of restaurant industry carnage, the off-premise nature of fast-food chains has allowed some brands to not only survive but even thrive among the declining competition. KFC, for example, is earmarking 2020 as a year of growth that brought about an important benchmark: The chain opened its 25,000th worldwide location.

In an earnings call for Yum! Brands, the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, CEO David Gibbs emphasized that the fried-chicken chain, which is the company's biggest brand, proved to be extremely resilient. As recently as 2015, the chain had less than 20,000 restaurants under its umbrella, demonstrating an impressive speed of unit growth undeterred by the pandemic. (Related: McDonald's Is Making These 8 Major Upgrades.)

"Even in the toughest of times, this brand is growing," Gibbs said. "And that kind of 5,000-unit growth over a five year period bodes well for the future. We've still only scratched the surface of penetrating the world with KFC."

The company posted its fourth-quarter earnings last week, which showed that KFC was a standout performer among the bunch. While Pizza Hut and Taco Bell's sales in 2020 fell compared to 2019 by 5% and 3% respectively, the chicken chain was able to pull out a win during the pandemic, with a 1% increase in comparable sales.

KFC closed out the year with about 98% of its locations open and operating in full or limited capacities. The chain operates locations on six continents, with the majority of its footprint spread across the United States, China, Japan, and Russia. However, the landmark 25,000th location was opened on December 31 in India.

For more on chains that are planning an expansion this year, check out These Fast-Food Chains Are Opening Hundreds of Locations This Year. And don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to get the latest restaurant news delivered straight to your inbox.

Mura Dominko
Mura is ETNT's Deputy News Editor, leading the coverage of America's favorite restaurant chains, grocery stores, and viral food moments. Read more about Mura