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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI alumnus who keeps KFC, Pizza Hut hot internationally to speak at
URI CEO Leadership Forum, Oct. 26

KINGSTON, R.I. -- Oct. 5, 2000 -- The University of Rhode Island alumnus who has made Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut hotter than McDonald's in many major international markets will be the speaker at this fall's URI CEO Leadership Forum on Thursday, Oct. 26.

Pete Bassi, the president of Tricon Restaurants International, a subsidiary of Tricon Global, the umbrella organization for Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell, will speak at 6:30 p.m. at the Westin Hotel in Providence on "The Exciting World of American Fast Food." The program is free and open to the public.

Bassi, who has been with Pepsico/Tricon since he graduated from URI, is responsible for an international business that generates annual sales of more than $7 billion. Tricon was formed when Pepsico spun off its restaurant business in 1997.

It might surprise people in the United States that when people in

Asia want American-style fast food, their first choice is often KFC or Pizza Hut, not McDonald's or Burger King.

In fact, a typical KFC restaurant in China serves about 10,000 customers a week, while in the U.S. the average KFC restaurant serves about 3,000 customers a week.

"In many of our markets outside the U.S., KFC is as strong or stronger than McDonald's," said Bassi, who earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1970 and his master of business administration in 1973 from URI.

He is thrilled to be invited to speak at the CEO Leadership Forum.

"This is a big deal," Bassi said. "I've made speeches all over the world, but I have never made a speech in my hometown. It is especially pleasing to speak on behalf of the a University for which I have a great deal of passion."

"URI is proud of Pete, who exemplifies the quality of our alumni," said Robert M. Beagle, URI vice president of university advancement. "We're also delighted to host Pete as a forum speaker. This program was initiated seven years ago in order to give Rhode Islanders an opportunity to hear firsthand about happenings in the business world. There's a lot of discussion on Wall Street and elsewhere about the future of the fast food industry. On October 26 folks in our state will have a chance to talk with one of the leaders in that field."

Company reports on this year's second quarter tell the success story of Tricon Restaurants International -- "Tricon's international business continues to deliver excellent results with ongoing operating profits up 20 percent, on top of 59 percent growth last year." The second quarter was the eighth straight quarter of 20 percent or better growth in operating profits.

Solid sales growth and 695 new restaurant openings over the past year drove those great numbers, including 430 KFCs, 240 Pizza Huts and 25 Taco Bells.

Bassi said there are several reasons why the global market for American fast food is so exciting. "One reason is that our restaurants outside the U.S. are much more complex," Bassi said. "For instance, in the U.S. much of KFC business is take-out chicken in the bucket, while in Asia, there is much more sit-down dining and sandwich and finger foods."

The native of Providence also said most spots in Asia are very pro-American. "And chicken is the preferred protein in Asia, over beef. KFC is a powerful product."

In South Korea, Pizza Hut is the strongest fast food brand. "In South Korea, we were the first chain to offer fine, casual, sit-down dining, so we developed great brand strength," Bassi said.

The Classical High School graduate said that Tricon's employee focus also keeps the company energized.

"We're into reward and recognition, because recognition works anywhere in the world. We take our top restaurant managers in the world and their families to Disney World where we provide limousines and round-the-clock translators. It's a rather significant expenditure, but it's important."

When Bassi learned that the Team USA basketball team, which was tuning up in Japan for the Summer Olympics, feasted on 25 buckets of KFC, "I sent a note to our guy in Japan saying, 'Glad you're keeping our American athletes fed.' The line we use is that people don't leave your company because they are not paid enough. They leave you because they are not appreciated."

For Information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116



 

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