Back in early 2008, popeyes chicken menu prices languished in quick-service mediocrity. A 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 external and internal pressures complicated the task.
Same-store sales, average unit volume (AUV), and transaction counts had suffered many years of declines, and those downward trends placed the business at odds featuring its franchisees, most of whom considered the Atlanta-based company mismanaged and self-serving. As though that wasn’t enough, the excellent 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 one unit right into a global enterprise of some 800 units, died at age of 64. Though Copeland had not directed the brand for over fifteen years, his death seemed a symbolic public blow to a brand clamoring for good news-anything good news. “The brand hadn’t been managed well,” says Di.ck Lynch, among Bachelder’s early management hires as well as the company’s chief brand officer, “and we necessary to get back in line.”
And that’s precisely what Popeyes did. In the last eight years, the chain has turned into a reinvigorated, lively force within 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 get into the best 20 inside 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 these in the Usa-and crossing 2,500 total units, an army of restaurants scattered over the Usa and over two dozen other nations around the world.
In 1972, Copeland opened Chicken on the Run in Arabi, Louisiana, a brand new Orleans suburb on the eastern side of the Mississippi River. Within months of opening, lackluster sales prompted Copeland-a 1-time local doughnut magnate unafraid of bold ideas-to alter course. He altered his eatery’s menu from traditional Southern-fried chicken to spicy, New Orleans-style chicken as well as 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 a lot more than 500 units, including restaurants outside of the U.S., along with end up being 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 company reorganized as AFC (America’s Favorite Chicken) Enterprises shortly thereafter.
Through the entire 1990s and in to the modern day, Popeyes delivery struggled to locate solid footing. It acquired and then sold brands like Seattle’s Best Coffee and Cinnabon. It lacked direction and purpose amid a revolving door of CEOs, in addition to persistent sales, profit, and store-traffic declines. Franchisees became increasingly frustrated.
When Bachelder was appointed CEO in 2007, the organization 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 organization in 2007. “Franchisees looked at us with plenty suspicion, so we were required to break through that noise and unite.”
Bachelder and her leadership team responded by introducing a Strategic Roadmap created 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 brand new products, including snack items and lighter choices to the core bone-in chicken offering; a store remodeling project; new menuboards; as well as 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 approximately 30 percent in the Usa,” Lynch says, calling the company’s advertising spend “completely inefficient.”
Soon after, Annie, a fictional character played by actress Deidrie Henry, became the brand’s new spokeswoman, a situation created to share blunt talk about Popeyes’ authentic and tasty food. There npdcjl also a revised name, as Popeyes dropped its “Chicken & Biscuits” tag in favor of “Louisiana Kitchen,” an endeavor to celebrate the brand’s heritage of Louisiana-inspired home cooking.
“We desired to tell the brand’s story and give popeyes chicken menu prices brand relevance … and this started with bringing the company to its Louisiana roots and which makes it authentic. We believed we couldn’t tell our brand story without having a 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.