US restaurant operator and owner of the Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell fast food chains, YUM! Brands, grew worldwide sales by 5% last year, finishing 2017 with core operating profit growth of 7%.

Sales rose by 7% at Taco Bell, 6% at KFC and 2% at Pizza Hut, helped by the opening of 1,407 new units over the course of the year at a net unit growth of 3%.

In regards to like-for-like sales, KFC grew revenues by 3%, Taco Bell by 4% while Pizza Hut sales were flat, resulting in an overall worldwide lfl sales rise of 2%.

In the UK, sales at KFC increased by 5% as Pizza Hut’s dropped 2%. Revenue at both chains fell in the US by 1% and 4% respectively.

Pizza Hut’s poor performance in it’s two biggest markets was offset by performance in developing markets such as China (+7%) and India (+10%). Australian sales increased by 14% for the year.

KFC sales in Australia, which is the brand’s second largest market, increased by 5%, while sales were up over 8% in both China and India, as well as in Russia (24%).

For the year, KFC opened 1,247 new international restaurants in 84 countries, 1,042 of which were opened in emerging markets.

Across the company, fourth quarter like-for-like sales we up 2% as operating profit dropped by 6%, a fall put down to the unfavourable impact of foreign currency translation.

Greg Creed, YUM! chief executive officer, said: “As we close the first full year of our transformation, I am very proud of the progress we are making towards becoming a more focused, more franchised and more efficient company that generates more growth.

“During 2017, system sales grew a healthy 5% excluding the impact of lapping the 53rd week in 2016, with same-store sales growth of 2% and net new unit growth of 3%.

David Gibbs, president and chief financial officer, added “The fourth quarter was a solid ending to a year where Yum! Brands met our exceeded each component of our full-year guidance.

“Despite headwinds from refranchising dilution and lapping a 53rd week, we delivered full-year core operating profit growth of 7%.

“We are on track with our strategic transformation to accelerate growth and made significant progress towards achieving these objectives in 2017.”