Annual Address from Yum China CEO Joey Wat to Shareholders

Yum China CEO Joey Wat Shares Annual Letter and 2023 Performance Highlights

Today, Joey Wat, the CEO of Yum China Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: YUMC and HKEX: 9987), released her annual letter to shareholders alongside the Company’s 2023 Annual Report. In her letter, Wat reflected on the impressive results of 2023, emphasized Yum China’s dedication to shareholder returns, and outlined ambitious plans for future growth and innovation.

“2023 marked a significant milestone for Yum China, showcasing one of our most robust performances to date. Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, we not only capitalized on opportunities arising from China’s reopening but also demonstrated resilience in the face of adversity,” said Joey Wat. She expressed gratitude to the Company’s 430,000 employees, acknowledging their pivotal role in driving agility and innovation essential for sustained success.

Returning value to shareholders remains a top priority for Yum China. In 2023, the Company returned a record $833 million to investors through dividends and share repurchases, amounting to 75% of annual operating profit. Looking ahead, Yum China plans to accelerate returns, aiming for dividends and share repurchases totaling at least $3 billion from 2024 to 2026, with $1.5 billion earmarked for 2024.

The growth prospects in China remain highly promising, with the country projected to be a key contributor to global economic growth in 2024. Operating in over 2,000 cities nationwide, Yum China currently serves approximately one-third of China’s population. The Company aims to expand its footprint to 20,000 stores by 2026, reaching an estimated 700 million people, representing around half of China’s population.

Joey Wat remarked, “The Chinese market presents abundant opportunities for us in the foreseeable future. Alongside the potential to reach more consumers, we anticipate a favorable shift in consumption patterns as residents in lower-tier cities elevate their spending habits. As the leading restaurant company in China, we are well-positioned to capitalize on this trend, with over half of our new stores targeted at lower-tier cities in recent years. Much of our future growth is expected to stem from these burgeoning markets.”

Furthermore, Wat emphasized the enduring popularity of Yum China’s core brands among Chinese consumers. However, she underscored the necessity of continuous innovation and excellence. Yum China has invested in industry-leading operational capabilities, superior customer service, and a robust supply chain supported by advanced technology. These strengths, Wat emphasized, will drive sustained success and value creation for shareholders in the long run.

“As we chart our course for the future, we remain steadfast in our pursuit of excellence and innovation, committed to achieving our growth objectives while delivering sustainable value to our shareholders,” concluded Wat.

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