Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM ) , owner of popular fast-food chains KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, will begin an aggressive program to open restaurants in smaller cities in China, according to a presentation the company gave at an investor and analyst conference this week. Although Yum! is the dominant fast-food operator in the country at the moment, with around 5,400 locations -- well exceeding McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) tally of roughly 1,600 -- its growth there has slowed of late and it's looking to new markets outside of major municipalities.
The company's plan is to open 700 restaurants in the country next year, the AP reported.
After China, Yum! considers India to be its next opportunity for significant growth. Currently, the company takes in approximately half of its operating profit from emerging markets. In 2009, that figure was around 40%.