Popeyes saw 15.6% sales growth in third quarter

Despite it not being available for the entire quarter, the new chicken sandwich introduced by Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen was a big sales driver for Popeyes and its parent company, Restaurant Brands International (RBI) for the third quarter of 2019.

Roy Graber Headshot
(Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen)
(Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen)

Despite it not being available for the entire quarter, the new chicken sandwich introduced by Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen was a big sales driver for Popeyes and its parent company, Restaurant Brands International (RBI) for the third quarter of 2019.

RBI, which on October 28 reported its financial results for the quarter ending September 30, noted a consolidated sales growth of 8.9% for the quarter, up from the consolidated sales growth of 6.7% for the same period of 2018.

Popeyes’ sales growth for the quarter was 15.6%, up from 7.9% sales growth reported during the three-month period of 2018. RBI, in announcing its financial results said that comparable sales growth was the highest it had been for the chain in nearly two decades.

RBI is also the parent company of Burger King and Tim Hortons. Burger King’s sales growth for the quarter was 10.7%, compared to the 7.8% for the third quarter of 2018. Meanwhile, Tim Horton’s saw a 0.1% sales decline, compared to sales growth of 2.8% for the same period of 2018.

Success of new Popeyes sandwich

Popeyes’ new chicken sandwich was debuted in August, but the sandwich was such a hit with customers that the chain ran out of supplies before the quarter concluded.

Jose Cil, CEO of RBI, during a quarterly earnings call, discussed the success of the new menu item and the other Popeyes offerings.

“The performance of the chicken sandwich far exceeded our most ambitious expectations and brought Popeyes into the national and international spotlight,” said Cil.

“While the chicken sandwich was an important component of overall sales growth in Q3, it's important to remember that it was only in stores nationally for about two weeks. The demand with so overwhelming that the supply we secured to support an aggressive sales forecast over several months ran out in approximately 14 days. By the end of its first week on a national stage, the Chicken Sandwich had generated millions of dollars of free media and garnered a huge response from existing Popeyes guests and thousands of new ones. We've shared in the past that our research suggests that for Popeyes, trial is a key obstacle to purchase intent.”

Cil noted that the craze surrounding the new sandwich “was great in attracting new guests, many of whom had never experienced the brand or its Cajun influence menu before.”

The sandwich will make its return on November 3, National Sandwich Day.

The chain is now better positioned to handle the demand as it prepares for the relaunch of the sandwich. But, Cil said, that preparation also includes other menu offerings from the chain.

“We saw a lift in our bone-in chicken business, we saw a lift in tenders, we saw lift in ancillaries, we saw lift in beverages, and quite a lift as well in desserts,” Cil said.

RBI pleased with Burger King’s Impossible Whopper

While it was a chicken product that attracted the most attention for RBI’s Popeyes during the third quarter, it was a meat alternative product that RBI discussed more than any other product served at Burger King.

“We couldn't be happier with the performance of the Impossible Whopper both during its initial launch phase and on a sustained basis over the course of the quarter. We're very pleased with the mix of growth between check and guest counts and have seen really healthy rates of repurchase intent in-line with those of the original Whopper. We're especially proud to have been on the leading edge of launching the plant-based trend in QSR nationally and see a great deal of momentum for continued growth in the category going forward, as adoption continues to spread across the U.S. and beyond,” said Cil.

“We believe the Impossible Whopper gives us one of the best plant-based platforms in the industry and look forward to building further on the success over time. We're already working to expand our platform outside the U.S., as we don't believe the impact of the plant-based trend is unique to the U.S.”

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