Text/Drawing Yangcheng Evening News reporter Sun Qiman intern Yan Siyun

  "The phase and the pillow are in the boat, I don't know the whiteness of the east".

  Recently, Yum China (09987.HK) announced that it will terminate the operation of its Chinese fast food brand "Dongfang Jibai".

As of December 31, 2021, there are 5 Dongfang Jibai stores in China, and all stores are planned to be permanently closed in 2022.

  Asking Yum to explore Chinese food yet again?

  Speaking of Yum China, many people may feel unfamiliar, but almost everyone is familiar with its brands - in addition to the well-known KFC and Pizza Hut, Parkson China's brands also include Little Sheep, Huang Jihuang, Lavazza, COFFii&JOY, Tower Ke Bell and Dongfang are both white.

  Among them, "East White" is a fully localized restaurant brand launched by Yum China in 2004.

The name "Dongfang Jibai" is taken from Su Shi's "Qian Chibi Fu". This restaurant brand with a Chinese flavor opened its first store in Xujiahui, Shanghai in 2005, focusing on Chinese fast food, and then the number of stores has reached 30 in 2021. , and then the number of stores continued to shrink, until now it has quietly exited.

  However, Dongfang Jibai is not the first time that Yum China has stumbled on the road of exploring localized catering. After Yum China acquired Little Sheep and Huang Jihuang successively, the operating conditions of both were not as good as expected.

After entering China for 35 years, why is Yum China still "unacceptable" on the road of exploring Chinese food?

In addition to Western food, how should Yum China break the game?

  A reporter from the Yangcheng Evening News interviewed Yum China on the above questions, but has not received a reply as of press time.

  Born was expected to be comparable to KFC

  At the beginning of its establishment, Dongfang Jibai had high hopes.

In 2005, after gaining a firm foothold in the Chinese market with KFC and Pizza Hut, Yum China aimed at the broader Chinese fast food market, and "East is White" came into being.

Three years later, Dongfang Jibai already has 13 stores in Shanghai, and the restaurant in Beijing Capital Airport can accommodate more than 300 people to dine at the same time.

At that time, Su Jingshi, the former chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands China, said in an interview with the media: "The number of Dongfang Jibai will one day surpass KFC."

  However, public information shows that by 2012, Dongfang Jibai had 30 stores across the country, but by 2015, the number of stores had halved.

By the end of 2017, Dongfang Jibai had only 10 stores left in the country, and Yum China stated in its annual report that "the brand is not regarded as an important growth engine for the company."

  In the past ten years, Dongfang Jibai has quietly changed from "the favorite of the heavens" to the "underachiever" of the brand, and now, it is even more difficult to "hold on".

At present, the official website of Dongfang Jibai only has the words "Official website is being upgraded, please wait", and the joining number on the page has become empty.

  In Dongfang Jibai's WeChat ordering applet, it is currently displayed that only two stores in Shanghai are still available for ordering.

However, a reporter from the Yangcheng Evening News called the phone numbers of the two stores, and one was empty, and the other could not be connected.

Searching for "Dongfang Jishibai" in the Dianping application currently shows 11 stores, most of which are in 2020 and 2021, and a large number of evaluations say that "there are few people in the store" and "cold and deserted".

The reporter called various stores, but they were not able to get through.

  The growth orientation is ambiguous, and there are no "popular models" for hundreds of meals

  Compared with the large-scale expansion of KFC and Pizza Hut in China, Dongfang Jibai's stores have never been able to form a scale.

In terms of location, Dongfang Jibai chose to locate a large number of stores in transportation hubs and popular attractions.

Under the impact of the new crown pneumonia epidemic, the number of people in major transportation hubs and scenic spots has plummeted, causing Dongfang Jibai, which has not been able to form a business network, to suffer heavy losses.

  But looking back on the development of Dongfang Jiebai in recent years, there may be other reasons for its development difficulties.

  As its brother brand, KFC has been making great strides in the Chinese market by virtue of its localization strategy. When it competed with its main competitor McDonald's for the foreign fast food market, KFC mainly relied on the strategy of localization and differentiation.

  During the development period, KFC launched "Chinese-style" breakfasts such as fancy breakfast porridge, safe fried dough sticks, and pure soy milk for breakfast; since then, it has successively launched "popular" meals such as Old Beijing Chicken Rolls and Sichuan Spicy Tender Beef Wufang.

The continuous introduction of localized products has made KFC, which cannot compete with McDonald's abroad, fight a turnaround in the Chinese market.

  However, Dongfang, under the banner of "KFC's brother brand" in vain, failed to find a way of differentiation in the fiercely competitive fast food market.

In the early days when it was not yet known by its products, Dongfang Jibai chose to copy KFC's "old method" of launching a large number of new products. At most, it had nearly 200 SKUs (commodity categories), covering breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea.

Compared with the “Real Kung Fu” which focuses on steamed rice and the “72 Street” which focuses on pork ribs rice, among the various dishes of Dongfang Jibai, there is no “master dish” that can be called the brand’s characteristics.

  Chinese food industry analyst Zhu Danpeng believes that Western food and Chinese food are two different systems.

"It's like a mountain. Chinese food is about precise docking. Different cities, regions, stores, seasons, dishes, and scenes have different strategies, which are very demanding for teams or traders."

  Self-help to enter retail, trying to transform steamed buns

  In the midst of the downturn, Dongfang Jiebai also tried to change and save himself.

  In October 2020, KFC, once dubbed "Kaifeng Cai" by netizens, officially announced the launch of the "KAIFENGCAI" series, launching prepackaged chicken breast, chicken soup, Japanese fried rice, chicken snail noodles and other products, officially entering the prepackaged food retail business.

According to China Trademark Network, the trademark "KAIFENGCAI" was registered in July, and the applicant was Dongfang Jibai (Shanghai) Catering Management Co., Ltd.

  In December 2020, a low-key decoration of a Dongfang Jibai store on Huangxing Road in Shanghai opened its doors to welcome customers, changing its original positioning style.

Although the brand name is still "Dongfang Jibai", the store logo has changed to the image of "buns".

According to public comments, the store's main dish has been replaced with "Meat Duo Jinling Big Meat Bun", priced at 6 yuan each.

In addition to the steamed bun series, there are also a series of dishes such as Huaiyang braised lion head, Jinling salted duck, soup, etc. The price ranges from 3-37 yuan.

  However, whether it is entering retail or transforming steamed buns, it seems that it has not been able to save the decline of Dongfang Jibai.

At the end of 2020, the number of its domestic stores was reduced to 8.

  How to read the "Chinese Food Sutra" well in Yum China

  In fact, Dongfang Nabai is not the first time Yum China has stumbled on its food road.

  After failing to incubate Chinese food brands independently, Yum China embarked on the road of using capital to acquire mature Chinese food chain brands.

However, after successive acquisitions of Little Sheep and Huang Jihuang, the operating conditions of both were not as good as expected.

  Before being acquired by Yum China, Little Sheep became the Chinese local catering company with an annual turnover of 2.5 billion yuan in 2002. At its peak, it had more than 720 stores.

In 2008, Little Sheep landed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and became the "first hot pot stock in China".

  In 2012, Yum China completed the acquisition of Little Sheep with HK$4.6 billion, but failed to sustain the glory of Little Sheep.

While KFC stores are expanding at a rate of about 1,000 stores per year, the number of Little Sheep stores will shrink from 310 to 270 in 2020, and only 240 will remain at the end of 2021.

Under the attack of Haidilao and Xiabuxiabu, Little Sheep's position in the hot pot market has long since disappeared.

  In April 2020, Yum China acquired a 93.3% stake in the stew pot chain brand Huang Jihuang for US$185 million, and announced the establishment of a Chinese food business unit consisting of three core Chinese food and beverage brands: Little Sheep, Dongfang Jibai and Huang Jihuang.

  In 2021, the number of Huang Jihuang stores will increase from 640 to 650. The specific operating conditions are not disclosed separately in the financial report.

However, according to the 2021 financial report, the business revenue of other segments including Little Sheep, Huang Jihuang, Dongfang Jibai, Lavazza and other brands was US$473 million, and the restaurant operating profit margin was -20.8%, compared with -6.3% in 2020.

  The reporter combed Yum China's financial reports in the past five years and found that, in addition to the rapidly expanding KFC and the steadily rising Pizza Hut, whether it is Dongfang Jibai, Little Sheep or Taco Bell, which specializes in Mexican-style food, all have ushered in after a brief expansion. decreased year by year.

While shrinking its original brands, Yum China continues to open up new frontiers.

There are more and more brands under Yum China, but its performance still relies on KFC to "carry forward".

  After entering the Chinese market for 35 years, Yum China, as the catering company with the highest sales in China, has yet to open the Chinese food market.

In recent years, Chinese catering has ushered in a financing boom. Standardization is no longer exclusive to "foreign fast food". There is not much time left for Yum China's trial and error.