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Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) chooses Rome for its debut restaurant in Italy

by Emanuele Scarci

The large American fast food chain, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), has chosen Rome as the first city in Italy to host its spicy fried chicken. The chain hopes to grow to 100 restaurants in Italy in the medium-long term, for an investment of €150 million (part of which will be absorbed by the franchisee) and with 5,000 employees, when at full capacity.

“The first attempt was unsuccessful because we weren’t sufficiently structured,” said 49-year-old Corrado Cagnola, CEO of KFC Italy, referring to an opening in Naples back in the 1970s.

“Italy is the only country where we are not present, and we are fully aware that, upon our arrival here, McDonald’s already boasts 500 restaurants and Burger King approximately one hundred,” he said.

This American chain has over 13,000 restaurants in more than 80 countries, and is controlled by the Yum! group, as are the Pizza Hut and Taco Bell brands. KFC Italy is 100% owned by the Luxembourg-based Yum! Restaurants International S.a.r.l.

The first Italian KFC restaurant will open on November 20, in the RomaEst shopping centre “to be followed by an inauguration in Turin on November 27,” lists Cagnola, “and another two or three during 2015, including one in Milan in a villa. The market’s response is important, of course, but our objective is to grow to 100 restaurants in the medium-long term.”

This certainly like a courageous choice, for this chain opens in Italy during a slump in consumer spending, with notable cutbacks in dining out.

Will KFC, like McDonald’s Italia, offer typically Italian products?

“That’s not out of the question,” said Cagnola. “Next year agreements will be made with 2 or 3 local producers, and in 2015 60% of our supplies will come from Italy: Italian gastronomic excellence (PGI) is of utmost interest to us.”