A KFC worker carries a plate of fried chicken during the official launch of the company’s first Cambodian outlet, on Monivong Boulevard in Phnom Penh, April 28.
KFC officially opened its first Cambodian outlet in Phnom Penh on April 28 and announced plans to open three more in the capital by the end of this year.
The joint venture company behind the outlet, Kampuchea Food Corp. Ltd, quickly won the support of Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh, who urged the company to bring more fast-food franchises to the country and speed up expansion of the KFC chain.
“I hope you bring Pizza Hut here because it will be a competitor of the Pizza Company,” he said, adding, “I want free and fair competition in Cambodia.”
Kampuchea Food Corp. was set up by Malaysian firm QSR Brands Bhd, the Cambodian investment and development company Royal Group of Companies Ltd and Hong Kong-incorporated investment holding firm Rightlink Corp. Ltd.
QSR – which operates the Pizza Hut chain in Malaysia and Singapore – has a 55 percent stake while Royal Group and Rightlink share 35 percent and 10 percent is held by other investors.
Kampuchea Food Corp. plans to invest $1 million in additional restaurants by the end of the year to tap demand from the growing number of tourists visiting Cambodia, QSR chairman Muhammad Ali Hashim said at the launch of the KFC outlet on Monivong Blvd, which had its soft opening in March.
Royal Group chairman Kith Meng said promoting KFC in the Kingdom was a prudent business move on the back of global brand-building.
“I think KFC is a well-known brand worldwide, so of course the market will accept it. You can see the response of consumers,” Meng said.
In addition to the four outlets targeted for Phnom Penh this year, KFC restaurants are also planned for Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Poipet “and other provinces, wherever the most tourists go,” Meng said.
He added that the first outlet is using about 15,000 chickens a month, which are being sourced from Kampong Cham province.
“We are purchasing chicken from someone but in the future we will have our own chicken farm,” he said, pointing to QSR’s sales of 110,000 chickens a day in Malaysia as a model for Kampuchea Food Corp. to follow.
KFC currently employs 75 staff at its first 126-seat restaurant but Meng said he expected the company to eventually employ some 8,000 workers when its chicken farming operations were well established.
Prasidh said he was confident the Commerce Ministry’s quality control department would not have any problems with food served by KFC.
“Your brand name is worth more than a certificate from Cambodian Cam-control because I believe you are not going to sell us chicken with bird flu,” he said.
“My wife is one of your favorite customers,” he added, calling for the company to quickly implement its expansion plans.
“I don’t believe that four KFC outlets a year is enough because tourism is growing by about 25 to 30 percent a year,” he said.
Cambodia’s middle class is also being tapped by the company and QSR’s Ali Hashim said there had been an “exciting number” of Cambodian customers at the Monivong outlet since it first opened its doors in March.
Phnom Penh resident Sam Soeun, 36, said she had been taking her three children to KFC twice a week for the past month.
“My kids really like to eat fried chicken – they feel good doing the same thing they see people doing on cable TV,” she said.
Health officials, however, have urged parents to be careful about how much fast food they let their children eat.
“Fast food isn’t bad if you know the right way to have it. But if you encourage your kids to eat too much there will be health problems,” said Dr Veng Thai, the director of the Health Department for Phnom Penh Municipality, pointing out that fried chicken has more fat and oil than traditional Khmer dishes.
“I see many kids who are overweight because their eating habits are not appropriate, he said.