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KFC Canada marketing duties reverting to parent

Updated Dec. 16 — The company that owns the franchises for about 60 per cent of Canada’s KFC outlets plans to pass responsibility for marketing the chicken chain in Canada back to the brand’s parent franchisor.

Priszm Income Fund said in a release Monday it plans to “transition” that responsibility back to Yum! Canada, which grants KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell franchises in Canada.

“It was unique for Priszm as a franchisee to lead marketing on behalf of the brands,” John Bitove, executive chairman of Priszm, said in the income fund’s release.

“With our renewed focus to upgrade and re-invest in our restaurants, we decided it was in the best interest of Priszm and KFC Canada to transition marketing leadership and costs back to Yum! Canada so Priszm can become even more focused on running great restaurants for our customers.”

Dan Howe, previously the chief marketing officer for Yum! Restaurants International in Geneva, will return to Canada as chief marketing officer for Yum! Canada and oversee KFC Canada’s marketing.

Most of the existing Priszm marketing team is expected to transition over to the Yum! Canada team. Some, however, are to remain with Priszm to support the company’s local-level store marketing.

The announcement comes as Toronto-based Priszm makes plans to spend over $15 million in 2010 upgrading its restaurants as part of the renewal and extension of its franchise agreements with Yum!

Priszm operates 444 quick-service restaurants in seven provinces other than Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and P.E.I. Of those restaurants, Priszm said previously, just 120 currently meet Yum’s “brand and image standards.” Of those, Yum has granted Priszm renewed 10-year franchises on 69.

The $15 million investment will see another 75 restaurants upgraded to meet those standards, allowing them to renew their franchise agreements through to 2020.

Another 16 “underperforming” Priszm-owned sites are to be closed before the end of 2010.

“Nothing negative”

Priszm also announced that its president for the KFC and Taco Bell brands, Steve Langford, will leave the company by the end of this year.

Jim Robertson, Priszm’s vice-president of operations, has been named its chief operating officer and will be responsible for all Priszm’s restaurants.

Langford, who had been in the post just since March 2008, oversaw Priszm’s pledge to introduce a faux-vegan item on its KFC restaurants’ menu, which helped lead animal advocacy group PETA to end its boycott of KFC Canada last year.

PETA’s larger coup was to extract a pledge from KFC Canada to phase in a plan that would eventually see all the company’s chicken purchased from suppliers who use “controlled-atmosphere” slaughter.

“Our preference is to have nothing negative attached to our brand,” Langford was quoted as saying at the time.

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