Back in early 2008, Popeyes menu prices languished in quick-service mediocrity. A whole new management team led by Cheryl Bachelder, a 1-time president of rival KFC, had been charged to steady the 1,900-unit company, but a litany of internal and external pressures complicated the work.
Same-store sales, average unit volume (AUV), and transaction counts had suffered numerous years of declines, and the ones downward trends placed the business at odds with its franchisees, many of whom considered the Atlanta-based company mismanaged and self-serving. As if that wasn’t enough, the Great Recession struck, spurring a precipitous drop in consumer confidence that further challenged gains.
Then, in March 2008, Popeyes founder Al Copeland, who had built the fried chicken-peddling chain from a single unit into a global enterprise of some 800 units, died at the age of 64. Though Copeland had not directed the manufacturer for over 20 years, his death seemed a symbolic public blow to your brand clamoring permanently news-a bit of good news. “The brand hadn’t been managed well,” says Di.ck Lynch, certainly one of Bachelder’s early management hires as well as the company’s chief brand officer, “and we necessary to get back to normal.”
And that’s precisely what Popeyes did. During the last eight years, the chain has become a reinvigorated, lively force in the quick-service game, shifting its results, public perception, and its future prospects.
In 2015, Popeyes added nearly $700 million in systemwide sales for your year-leapfrogging Papa John’s to enter the top 20 within the QSR 50-and captured same-store sales gains of 5.7 percent at its domestic units, the seventh consecutive year of positive comp sales. The enterprise also reached two new development milestones: opening a record 219 restaurants in 2016-125 of them in the Usa-and crossing 2,500 total units, an army of restaurants scattered throughout the U.S. and more than two dozen other nations worldwide.
In 1972, Copeland opened Chicken on the Run in Arabi, Louisiana, a brand new Orleans suburb on the eastern edge of the Mississippi River. Within months of opening, lackluster sales prompted Copeland-a 1-time local doughnut magnate unafraid of bold ideas-to modify course. He altered his eatery’s menu from traditional Southern-fried chicken to spicy, New Orleans-style chicken and in addition installed the Popeyes moniker, a nod to Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, the detective character in The French Connection portrayed by Gene Hackman.
Through the mid-1980s, Popeyes had been a growing phenomenon. The chain boasted greater than 500 units, including restaurants outside of the United states, and had become the third-largest quick-service chicken chain.
But Copeland’s ambitious appetite proved too mighty. In 1991, his company was forced into bankruptcy after his 1989 purchase of rival Church’s Fried Chicken soured. The organization reorganized as AFC (America’s Favorite Chicken) Enterprises shortly thereafter.
Through the 1990s and into the modern day, Popeyes Catering menu prices struggled to find solid footing. It acquired and after that sold brands like Seattle’s Best Coffee and Cinnabon. It lacked direction and purpose amid a revolving door of CEOs, as well as persistent sales, profit, and store-traffic declines. Franchisees became increasingly frustrated.
When Bachelder was appointed CEO in 2007, the company was drowning in a surging wave of missteps. “It was the land of silos,” says Amy Alarcon, Popeyes’ v . p . of culinary innovation, who joined the company in 2007. “Franchisees checked out us with plenty of suspicion, and we were required to break through that noise and unite.”
Bachelder and her leadership team responded by introducing a Strategic Roadmap made to fuel results, unify the brand, re-establish trust with franchisees, and propel the brand’s floundering marketplace standing.
There was clearly the launch of the latest products, including snack items and lighter options to the core bone-in chicken offering; a store remodeling project; new menuboards; along with a new advertising agency. The multi-million-dollar efforts were designed to drive traffic and prevent consistent same-store sales declines.
“We weren’t a national advertiser in 2008, and were only in about 30 percent in the United states,” Lynch says, calling the company’s advertising spend “completely inefficient.”
Right after, Annie, a fictional character played by actress Deidrie Henry, had become the brand’s new spokeswoman, a situation created to share blunt discuss Popeyes’ authentic and tasty food. There npdcjl additionally a revised name, as Popeyes dropped its “Chicken & Biscuits” tag in support of “Louisiana Kitchen,” an endeavor to celebrate the brand’s heritage of Louisiana-inspired home cooking.
“We wished to tell the brand’s story and present popeyes chicken menu prices brand relevance … and that started with bringing the company back to its Louisiana roots and making it authentic. We believed we couldn’t tell our brand story with no new brand identity,” says Lynch, who developed brand strategy and innovation plans for concepts like Burger King, Ruby Tuesday, and Buffalo Wild Wings before his arrival at Popeyes in 2008.