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Popeyes returns Chicken Sandwich, delivers strong Q3 sales

Uber-popular Chicken Sandwich fares prominently in performance

The much-anticipated Popeyes Chicken Sandwich return is set for November 3. The short announcement followed the release of parent Restaurant Brands International’s (RBI’s) earnings report for Q3. Discussing results on an earnings call, RBI Chief Executive Jose Cil commented that Popeyes Chicken Sandwich had contributed to millions of free media impressions and far exceed sales expectations. “The Chicken Sandwich craze was great in attracting new guests, many of whom had never experienced the brand or its Cajun influence menu before,” said Cil.

The return of the sandwich on a Sunday is quite significant since Chick-fil-A closes all stores on Sundays. In fact, as a dig on the competitor, Popeyes released an image that drives the point home that Popeyes is open on Sundays and Chick-fil-A is not (see photo below).

In Q3, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen posted total global sales growth of 15.6 percent, also growing its comparable store sales by 9.7 percent. Last year, comparable sales increased by only 0.5 percent during the same quarter. U.S. restaurant sales increased by 10.2 percent. This was welcome news to RBI, which needed it after another disappointing quarter for its Tim Hortons’ brand.

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As it readies its Popeyes Chicken Sandwich return, the QSR chain celebrates other noteworthy Q3 initiatives. These include a $10 Two-Can-Dine promotion. Two additional offers stood out: the Wild Honey Mustard Boneless Wings LTO and the Double Dippers special. The Buttermilk Butterfly Shrimp was another success, suggested Cil.

He added, “This may occasionally get lost in the mix, but Popeyes is one of the only national QSR brand serving this type of seafood and our LTOs in the category tend to perform really well. Asian inspired seafood is also totally in line with the Louisiana heritage of the brand, which we see as a great and important differentiator for Popeyes.”

Popeyes Chicken Sandwich return set for November 3. This is a Popeyes' dig on competitor Chick-fil-A. Photo by Popeyes.
Popeyes’ dig on competitor Chick-fil-A. Photo by Popeyes.

Setting a future trajectory

Popeyes remains significantly under-penetrated in the United States, say executives. The strength of recent promotions sends a signal to RBI to accelerate the chain’s domestic growth. As management activates more delivery restaurants, 80 percent of Popeyes’ restaurants upgraded to a new POS system. The upgrade offers additional insights into the business through product mix and sales analysis.

RBI increased revenues by 6 percent from last year to $1.46B in Q3. Consolidated global Q3 sales among the Popeyes, Tim Hortons and Burger King brands grew by 8.7 percent. Year to date, Popeyes increased segment income from last year by $9M to $129M. Two-thirds of this year-over-year increase was generated in Q3 alone. As the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich return fast-approaches, RBI and Popeyes’ executives bask in their display of culinary and marketing prowess at Popeyes.

Photo credit: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (featured, inline).

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