NEW YORK (AP) — Yum Brands reported a higher-than-expected profit for its first quarter highlighted by a rebound in KFC sales in China, where concerns about the safety of the chain's chicken supply eased.
The company, which also owns Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, said Tuesday that sales at established locations in China rose 9 percent for the period.
Louisville, Ky.-based Yum has been working to re-establish trust with customers China, where it is the biggest Western fast-food operator with more than 6,300 locations. In late 2012, a TV report said some of KFC's suppliers were giving chickens unapproved levels of antibiotics. That touched off fears over food safety and sales nosedived. A few months later, fears over avian flu upended recovery efforts.
Executives focused on a marketing campaign to underscore the safety of its food. KFC also rolled out a revamped menu and new marketing. For the first quarter, sales rose 11 percent at KFC, which accounts for 4,600 of its restaurants in China. Pizza Hut, which accounts for most the rest, saw sales at established locations rise 8 percent.
Yum has said it expects earnings per share for the year to rise at least 20 percent, gaining back some of last year's losses.
Earlier in the day, McDonald's said its China sales rose 6.6 percent at established restaurants.