Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is one of those rare stories of growth in the restaurant business.
The Atlanta-based chicken purveyor has posted seven straight years of same-store sales increases, an enviable record in a fast-food industry where slow-growing household incomes, consumer fickleness, market disruption over ingredient transparency, and other factors have slowed traditional giants such as McDonald’s.
“We have been building a couple hundred restaurants a year, at the top of our sector,” Popeyes CEO Cheryl Bachelder told brandchannel. “And we’re expanding globally.”
In fact, Popeyes is the world’s second-largest quick-service chicken concept based on number of units, with more than 2,400 operating restaurants in the US, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Cayman Islands and 27 other countries.
Much of Popeyes’ action is abroad in South Korea, Singapore, the Middle East, Turkey and Eastern Europe. And in each of those countries, as in the US, franchisees carry the load for the brand. The company pays extremely close attention to the unit economics for franchisees “so they can grow and prosper.”
“We enjoy the franchising model, and we think we have a strong brand, menu lineup and marketing plan, so we can partner with the best restaurant operators we can find in each country,” Bachelder said. In Turkey, for instance, Popeyes’ main franchisee partners “have built more than 110 restaurants in the past five years and represent our brand extremely well.”
In addition to the backbone of franchising, Popeyes’ pillars include a focus on building market share with strong product innovations such as the hot, spicy Ghost Pepper wings it introduced last December and sold for a limited time. The chain also strives for “continuous improvement in the guest experience,” Bachelder said.
This should all add up to continuing prosperity for a chicken brand that—in a segment with Chick-fil-A and KFC—can sometimes be overlooked.