THE 24 KFC restaurants in Northern Ireland are set to have new owners as part of a strategic acquisition to enable the brand to accelerate its growth strategy in the UK and Ireland chicken market.
It comes as Yum! Brands’ KFC division has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 218 KFC restaurants from EG Group, the company’s largest KFC franchisee in the UK and Ireland.
And it says the transaction represents a “significant opportunity” to accelerate the growth of the business, with high average unit volumes and robust margins.
It also marks yet another change in the ownership in the finger lickin’ brand in the north.
In May supermarket giant Asda acquired sister company EG Group’s UK and Ireland operations for £2.27 billion in a deal which included a major KFC franchise of 146 KFC restaurants.
Michael Herbert, one of the north's richest men, previously controlled the largest KFC franchise in central Europe, with the portfolio stretching to over 150 stores across the UK and Ireland.
But the millionaire property developer sold his franchise to EG Group in 2020.
KFC UK and Ireland has a strong track record of consistent growth that has continued this year, with system sales up 7% and same-store sales up 5% across its 1,040 restaurants.
Since 2018, KFC has opened 200 new restaurants across the UK and Ireland, and with the market demonstrating renewed potential since the start of 2023, it previously announced plans to open a further 500 restaurants across the market by 2030.
Once completed, all of EG’s UK and Ireland KFCs – over half of which is made up of drive-thrus – and 7,800 team members will come under KFC UK and Ireland management.
Sabir Sami, KFC division chief executive officer, said: “The KFC business is a powerhouse for Yum! globally and the UK and Ireland is one of our strongest markets.
“Over the past five years, we’ve secured our leadership position within the UK and Ireland chicken market, opening 200 new restaurants, and we’re now close to being a £2 billion business in the UK, thanks to our extremely talented local management team.
“We’re pleased to add these restaurants to our equity portfolio, in a market where we are well placed to drive strong growth while also making further digital and strategic progress.”
Meg Farren, managing director of KFC UK and Ireland, added: “EG has played an important role in helping KFC expand its footprint across the UK and Ireland, and the brand has been a big part of EG’s own growth in recent decades.
“With the market for high-quality, great-tasting chicken growing all the time, we see a big opportunity to capitalize on our leadership position and to unlock new value for all our stakeholders in the UK and Ireland, especially our customers and the communities we’re so proud to serve. On behalf of all of us on the management team, I want to welcome EG’s KFC restaurant team members even closer into the KFC family.”
Zuber Issa and Mohsin Issa, CBE co-founders and co-CEOs of EG Group, said: “We are proud to have been a strategic partner of KFC in the UK and Ireland, playing an important role in helping the brand expand its footprint, but now is the right time to hand the baton to the KFC leadership team to continue to grow the brand in the UK.
“This is the latest transaction in our significant deleveraging this year – to put in place a sustainable capital structure. I would like to thank all the colleagues who have helped deliver such exceptional brand standards and customer service over recent years, including during the Covid period.”