KFC has revealed plans to open a further 50 new restaurants this year and another 300 over the next five years.

The UK & Ireland business has opened 160 new restaurants nationwide over the last five years, and is celebrating its 1,000th restaurant during the first quarter of the year.

The brand, which employs 27,000 people in the UK & Ireland, said there is a potential for 1,500 new job opportunities across 2022.

KFC said the 1,000 milestone has been bolstered by a brand transformation to attract a new audience through “cultural relevance and bold communications”, which have increased demand and sales.

The brand’s 33 franchisee businesses have managed to maintain growth throughout the past two years, making the UK and Ireland one of the fastest growing markets outside of China and the US.

Meanwhile, the company sought to underscore its responsibility credentials across environment, chicken welfare, and social purpose.

Paula MacKenzie, general manager, KFC UK and Ireland, said: “We’ve been on a transformation journey over the last five years to become a more connected and vibrant business. Reaching 1,000 restaurants is a testament to our growth and commitment to serving delicious fried chicken up and down the country.”

MacKenzie highlighted the work of the KFC Foundation, which has helped young people in local communities across the UK and Ireland through £6.55m in community grants and donations to grassroots organisations.

In the past year, the KFC Foundation has supported nearly 2,000 young people and paid over £125,000 in community grants.