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, was 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 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 in to a global enterprise of some 800 units, died at the age of 64. Though Copeland had not directed the manufacturer for over fifteen years, his death seemed a symbolic public blow to some brand clamoring once and for all news-any good news. “The brand hadn’t been managed well,” says Di.ck Lynch, among Bachelder’s early management hires and the company’s chief brand officer, “and we required to get back to normal.”
And that’s precisely 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 that year-leapfrogging Papa John’s to enter the very best 20 in 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 those inside the United states-and crossing 2,500 total units, an army of restaurants scattered throughout the Usa and over two dozen other nations around the world.
In 1972, Copeland opened Chicken on the Run in Arabi, Louisiana, a 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 change 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 was actually a growing phenomenon. The chain boasted greater than 500 units, including restaurants away from 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 buying of rival Church’s Fried Chicken soured. The organization reorganized as AFC (America’s Favorite Chicken) Enterprises shortly thereafter.
Through the entire 1990s and into the twenty-first century, Popeyes Catering menu with prices 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 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 business in 2007. “Franchisees looked at us with plenty of suspicion, and that we were required to break through that noise and unite.”
Bachelder and her leadership team responded by introducing a Strategic Roadmap designed to fuel results, unify the company, re-establish trust with franchisees, and propel the brand’s floundering marketplace standing.
There was the launch of brand new products, including snack items and lighter alternatives 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 made 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 from the Usa,” Lynch says, calling the company’s advertising spend “completely inefficient.”
Soon after, Annie, a fictional character played by actress Deidrie Henry, took over as the brand’s new spokeswoman, a situation made to share blunt discuss Popeyes’ authentic and tasty food. There npdcjl additionally a revised name, as Popeyes dropped its “Chicken & Biscuits” tag in favour 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 present https://popeyes.com/menu/ brand relevance … and this started with bringing the company back to its Louisiana roots and which makes 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.