It has only been a few months—maybe half a year—since Popeyes introduced a new chicken sandwich item to their menu. And it took only two weeks for the chicken franchise to completely sell out of their new sandwich inventory. Actually, the brand admitted that “extraordinary demand” for the product could them completely be surprise.
As a matter of fact, the simple—buttermilk-battered-and-breaded white meat chicken breast filet, topped with pickles and a Cajun-inspired mayo spread, on a brioche bun—is now being called the company’s biggest product launch in three decades.
With such popularity, the company took the item off the menu, temporarily, to prevent another shortage; and then brought it back again in November. And fourth quarter figures show that the sandwich continues to be force of reckoning in the fast-food world.
In a discussion about financial results, Restaurant Brands International CEO Jose Cil remarked the sandwich has been quite a game changer for the brand in so many ways. As a matter, fact, Cil called 2019 “a pivotal year” for the Popeyes brand, noting that the sandwich was particularly responsible for drawing in new customers. Of course, the enticement of the sandwich encouraged these customers to try other menu items, too.
Cil goes on to say, “For the vast majority of our guests purchasing the sandwich, we saw that they actually spent more on other products. The traffic driven by the demand of the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich helped drive growth in our entire menu.”
Specifically, fourth quarter results for Restaurant Brands International bested many estimates. For example, revenue came in at $1.48, versus the expected $1.47 billion. Adjusted earnings per share came in at 75 cents, versus 73 cents. Same store sales (at Popeyes locations) came in more than double the expected 15 percent up, at 34.4 percent.
It might be critical to note that Restaurant Brands International also owns Burger King, who delivered similarly strong results in the quarter as well. In terms of this particular franchise, sales were up approximately 8 percent in Q4, to $5.9 billion, compared to the same period the year prior. At stores open at least 13 months, the jump was about 3 percent.