Chinese style fast food chain East Dawning looks headed for international expansion after the chairman of Yum! Brands said he saw "great" potential for the brand overseas.
Yum!'s East Dawning, or Dong Fang Ji Bai, began life in Shanghai and now has 30 locations in eight Chinese cities selling a domestic menu that includes pork rice, plum juice and tea.
In an interview David Novak, the chairman and chief executive of Yum!, which owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, said that after two decades of exporting Western-style fried chicken and pizza to China it could soon be time to begin taking Chinese fast food dishes to America. However, he stressed that no timeline had yet been set.
"I would love to see East Dawning become the first global brand that emanates from China. But the first task is to make it a big success here. All of us in China know we have huge potential with East Dawning," Novak said, fresh from his arrival in Shanghai.
In November last year the group received clearance for its takeover of Little Sheep, the Mongolian hotpot chain, for US$860 million.
"We think the Chinese fast food market will develop and we want to have the leading brand in that category," he said.
Yum! is also planning to double its stores in China by 2020 to take advantage of a consumer population set to hit 600 million within eight years.
"If you look at China you see the No. 1 retail and restaurant opportunity of the 21st century. We are still on the ground floor," said Novak, who was giving a speech at Fudan University on leadership to mark the publication of his book Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen.
KFC and Pizza Hut are already in 800 cities in China, the only country in the world where the group beats McDonalds, with its eateries outnumbering its rival's by a ratio of three to one.
Part of its success is due to adapting its menus to suit local tastes by offering congee at KFC or rice dishes at Pizza Hut.