AFC Enterprises Inc., parent to Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, reported a 10.2-percent increase in systemwide sales during the first quarter of 2013, citing menu and marketing innovations.
Limited-time promotions during the first quarter, which included a Butterfly Shrimp Tackle Box and Rip’n Chick’n, elicited a “strong consumer response” and contributed to sales growth, said chief executive Cheryl Bachelder during an earnings call with analysts.
“Response to these appealing promotional offerings and the impact of national media drove our market share of the Chicken-QSR category to just over 20 percent,” she added.
During the April 21-ended first quarter, net income rose to $9.6 million, or 40 cents per share, from $8.3 million, or 34 cents per share during the first quarter of 2012.
The company reported total revenue of 60.4 million for the quarter, an increase from 52.8 million the prior-year quarter.
Global same-store sales grew 4.5 percent during the first quarter compared with 7.4 percent in the year-earlier quarter. Domestically, Popeyes reported same-store sales growth of 4.5 percent for both company and franchised units, compared with 8.1 percent the prior year.
Nicole Miller Regan, a senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co., said in a report that Popeyes’ same-store sales beat expectations for the quarter. “We remain encouraged by continued momentum of the company’s execution against its strategic plan,” the report said, noting the company’s “continued execution against its operational initiatives” will “position the brand for outperformance in the future.”
Those initiatives include the company’s ongoing redesign plan, which Bachelder noted is showing returns. Sixty percent of the domestic Popeyes locations are planned for redesigns by the end of the year, and one-third of Popeyes stores already have the new Louisiana redesign in place.
“This is an important part of our strategy to improve the overall guest experience and reinvigorate the brand,” she said of the refresh.
Bachelder also noted that Popeyes is not testing breakfast items, despite a single-store breakfast event in May.
The first quarter results mark Popeyes’ 12th consecutive quarter of domestic same-store sales growth. “Even more impressively, over the past two years, you’re looking at [domestic] comps up 12.6 percent,” said Ralph Bower, president at Popeyes. “It’s been a pretty good roll for us.”
Popeyes has pointed to limited-time offers as a major sales driver for the Atlanta-based company in past quarters. During the fourth quarter of 2012, ended Dec. 30, Bachelder cited the company’s marketing of garlic and pepper Wicked Chicken and Zatarain’s Butterfly Shrimp as drivers of a same-store sales increase of 6.2 percent.
Going forward, the company said in a statement that it plans to have a net restaurant growth of 85 to 115 new store locations during fiscal 2013. Same-store sales growth for the year is expected to be 3 percent to 4 percent.
During the next five years, Popeyes expects same-store sales growth of 1 percent to 3 percent, with net unit growth of 4 percent to 6 percent.
As of April 21, AFC Enterprises had 2,119 Popeyes units systemwide.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: May 30, 2012 Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article incorrectly indicated that same-store sales increased 10.2 percent.
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