An unknown number of KFC employees were issued pink slips Thursday at parent company Yum! Brands' headquarters in Louisville, Ky.

The move comes shortly after the chain announced plans to increase its footprint in India and Africa. Still, domestic sales have been sluggish for the brand for more than a year.

During the most recent earnings report, KFC's U.S. sales were down 3 percent.

Karen Sherman, senior director of communications at KFC Corp., told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the decision was made to reduce cost and maximize efficiencies.

Yum! Brands issued layoffs at KFC in 2009, as well, and began a more aggressive refranchising effort, selling company-owned stores to franchisees in order to reduce costs.

David Novak, Yum! Brands' CEO, outlined a turnaround strategy for the KFC brand a little more than a year ago, which included a greater focus on operations, bone-in chicken and grilled chicken. The grilled chicken line generates about 15 percent of the brand's sales.

KFC is also navigating an increasingly crowded chicken sub-segment, with the expansion of Popeyes and Chick-fil-A, and leadership changes at Church's Chicken. Traditional burger chains have also stepped up their chicken offerings in response to a higher demand for healthier menus.

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