US giant Tricon Restaurants International has announced ambitious plans to expand its Pizza Hut and KFC brands further into Thailand with an investment of Bt1.2bn, and hopes to conquer a 50% share of the market by the end of 2001. The fastfood market itself is expected to grow by 15-20% in Thailand this year.

Allaying the concerns of critics, who argue that the Thai market is already saturated with Western fastfood businesses, the strategy will see the opening of 30-40 new KFC outlets and 70 new Pizza Hut restaurants. Of the latter, 45 will be able to take home delivery orders and thus capitalise on the current consumer trend towards casual dining and quick service. 

“The fastfood business still has plenty of growth potential,” argues Hester Chew, vice-president and managing director of the local arm of Tricon. “Right now it’s only a fraction of total food consumption in Thailand.”

Tricon has recently ended a long legal battle with Pizza Hut’s main competitor, the Minor Food Group, who was formerly a franchisee but now plans to re-open its 116 outlets under The Pizza Company branding. Nevertheless, sales at Pizza Hut are expected to reach more than Bt1bn as Chew explains that the pizza market can support two, or even three, major operators.

Furthermore, “we expect home-delivered pizza to be the next great wave of the future,” said Chew.

He added that the market for chicken is also expanding in Thailand, and consumption reached 11kg per capita this year, up from 8-9kg in previous years.