Yum Brands sees profits jump as Chinese sales increase

Pizza Hut outlet in Beijing
Image caption Yum Brands is planning to expand its presence in China even further to cater to growing demand

Fast food giant Yum Brands has reported a jump in third-quarter profit as sales at its Chinese outlets continue to grow.

Yum reported a net profit of $383m (£248m) in the three months to 3 September, up from $357m last year.

The owner of Pizza Hut and KFC said same-store sales in China rose 19% during the period.

With close to 4,200 outlets, China accounts for more than 40% of Yum's profits.

"This tremendous sales growth, combined with our expectation to open a record 600 new restaurants this year, gives us even more confidence our China business model is as strong as ever," said David Novak, chairman and chief executive officer of Yum Brands.

Domestic trouble

While it continues to grow in China and other emerging markets, Yum Brands has been struggling in the US market.

The company said like-for-like sales at its US outlets fell as much as 3% in the third-quarter, resulting in a 16% drop in profit during the period.

"We're obviously disappointed in our US performance," Mr Novak said.

Analysts said the company was still suffering the effects of the lawsuit against Taco Bell earlier this year, over allegations that it used large amounts of additives and little actual meat in its beef products.

Though the company denied the claims and the lawsuit was dropped, it damaged Yum's brand image.

"They've got a job to do PR-wise to repair that," said Jack Russo of investment firm Edward Jones.

"It looks like it's stabilising and we'll get to the point next year where they'll be bouncing up against some easier comparisons so that will help," he added.

Yum said that it was planning to launch innovation and productivity initiatives in the US in a bid to improve sales and profits.

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