February 21, 2024

Burger King’s new “Ch’King” chicken sandwich will be on display in New York, NY on May 19, 2021.

Aleksandra Michalska | Reuters

When Burger King launched the Ch’King nationwide in early June, it didn’t just launch a new chicken sandwich.

This also marked a change in the burger chain’s menu strategy, according to Jose Cil, CEO of Burger King’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International.

“Our menu focus is shifting from promotional items to basics, and doing hard work on the core menu to ensure we have great tasting foods that our customers can rely on day in and day out,” said Cil at the Evercore ISI Consumer & Retail Summit on Thursday.

He found that the average unit volume at a Burger King location rose from about $ 1 million in 2011 to $ 1.3 million in 2018, according to Article. Cil was President of Burger King from 2014 to 2019 when he took over the helm of Restaurant Brands.

“I was at the helm, so I am fully responsible and stand by the results, but we focused a lot on the promotion work,” said Cil.

In the first quarter of this year, the burger chain saw U.S. sales growth of 6.6% in the same store, aided by weaker results last year after the lockdown began to affect its sales.

But to tap into the next level of growth, the company will be working on the fundamentals of the business, including its core menu. For example, it took two years to develop the Ch’King, perfect the hand-breaded chicken sandwich recipe, and make sure it was as easy as possible for restaurant staff, Cil said.

“I think the evolution of this product and the way we introduced it should be an indicator of how we’re thinking about and re-prioritizing the business at Burger King,” said Cil.

Burger King’s sister chain Popeyes has great success with its chicken sandwich. After launching in 2019, the fried chicken chain saw double-digit quarterly sales growth in the same business for 1½ years, driven by the strength of the sandwich.

Restaurant Brands’ shares are up 11% this year for a market value of $ 31.4 billion. Domestic sales of the Burger King and Popeyes brands have recovered quickly from the pandemic, but Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons is taking longer to recover as Canada extends its bans.