Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen saw its sales surge in 2019, particularly in the fourth quarter, when the quick service restaurant (QSR) chain relaunched its popular chicken sandwich.
Popeyes’ parent company, Restaurant Brands International (RBI), released its 2019 full year financial results on February 10. In a conference call that coincided with the release of the results, RBI CEO Jose Cil pointed out that Popeyes’ comparable sales growth accelerated to more than 34% during the fourth quarter, and an acceleration of 38% in the United States, driven by the relaunch of the Popeyes chicken sandwich on November 3.
The sandwich was initially launched in August, but it was so popular the chain ran out of supplies and temporarily discontinued it.
“This has been a very exciting time for the Popeyes team and in fact has been an exciting time for all of us who spent a long time in QSR and have never seen the kind of guest response for a single product launch like the one we had for our Popeyes chicken sandwich,” said Cil.
“2019 was a pivotal year for the brand. Globally, system-wide sales grew over 18% for the full year and a remarkable 42% in the fourth quarter. As you might expect, a good deal of this growth was driven by the launch of the chicken sandwich, which surely ranks among the greatest product launches in the history of QSR.”
Cil noted it wasn’t just the sandwich that drove up sales. While it may have been the sandwich that brought more consumers into Popeyes restaurants, other core offerings also performed well.
“For the vast majority of our guests purchasing the sandwich, we saw that they actually spent more on other products than on the sandwich itself, resulting in very healthy check levels and incredibly valuable awareness and trial.
As the sandwich was relaunched at Popeyes’ locations, the company saw online discussions of Popeyes and its sandwich surge on social media. Cil said Popeyes trended No. 1 on Twitter and became the top searched item on Google.
During the third quarter of fiscal year 2019, when the sandwich was first introduced, RBI reported a 15.6% sales growth for Popeyes.