Back in early 2008, popeyes chicken menu prices languished in quick-service mediocrity. A whole new management team led by Cheryl Bachelder, a 1-time president of rival KFC, was 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 years of declines, and people downward trends placed the organization at odds using its franchisees, a lot of whom considered the Atlanta-based company mismanaged and self-serving. As though that wasn’t enough, the fantastic 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 right into a global enterprise of some 800 units, died at the age of 64. Though Copeland had not directed the manufacturer for more than 20 years, his death seemed a symbolic public blow to a brand clamoring for good news-any good news. “The brand hadn’t been managed well,” says Di.ck Lynch, certainly one of Bachelder’s early management hires and the company’s chief brand officer, “and we needed to get back on track.”
And that’s just what Popeyes did. In the last eight years, the chain has turned into a reinvigorated, lively force inside the quick-service game, shifting its results, public perception, along with its future prospects.
In 2015, Popeyes added nearly $700 million in systemwide sales for your year-leapfrogging Papa John’s to get in the very best 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 an archive 219 restaurants in 2016-125 of them inside the United states-and crossing 2,500 total units, an army of restaurants scattered over the U.S. and more than two dozen other nations around the world.
In 1972, Copeland opened Chicken on the Run in Arabi, Louisiana, a whole 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 also 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 away from U.S., along with 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 entire 1990s and to the twenty-first century, Popeyes Catering tray struggled to locate 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, along with persistent sales, profit, and store-traffic declines. Franchisees became increasingly frustrated.
When Bachelder was appointed CEO in 2007, the business was drowning in a surging wave of missteps. “It was the land of silos,” says Amy Alarcon, Popeyes’ vice president of culinary innovation, who joined the organization in 2007. “Franchisees checked out us with plenty suspicion, and we had to break through that noise and unite.”
Bachelder and her leadership team responded by introducing a Strategic Roadmap designed to fuel results, unify the brand, re-establish trust with franchisees, and propel the brand’s floundering marketplace standing.
There is the launch of the latest products, including snack items and lighter options to the core bone-in chicken offering; a shop remodeling project; new menuboards; as well as a new advertising agency. The multi-million-dollar efforts were created to drive traffic and stop consistent same-store sales declines.
“We weren’t a national advertiser in 2008, and were only in approximately 30 percent of the United states,” Lynch says, calling the company’s advertising spend “completely inefficient.”
Shortly after, Annie, a fictional character played by actress Deidrie Henry, had become the brand’s new spokeswoman, a job created to share blunt speak 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 attempt 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 returning to its Louisiana roots and rendering it authentic. We believed we couldn’t tell our brand story without 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.