Popeyes Chicken Focuses on Suburbs

Rival KFC has been eyeing more international expansion instead of domestic stores.

August 10, 2012

ATLANTA - Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen has big plans to expand its presence in the United States, while its competitor KFC has its focus on the international market, Bloomberg News reports. Popeyes has rolled out a new menu and ad campaign aimed at courting white diners.

CEO Cheryl Bachelder, who was an executive with KFC, said Popeyes would be ramping up the number of U.S. locations to 3,200 ?" twice its current number. "We??ve really reached the hearts and minds of a much broader customer base," said Bachelder.

Currently, 40% of Popeyes customers are black, but that demographic is shifting as locations are opened in predominately white areas. Sales at Popeyes will increase around 13% in 2012. Overall, sales at U.S. quick-service restaurants will only bump up 1.9% this year, according to IBISWorld Inc.

In contrast, same-store sales at U.S. KFC locations jumped 1% in its most recent quarter, while Popeyes??s soared 8.1%. "We feel good about our strategy going forward," said Virginia Ferguson, spokeswoman for Yum! Brands, which owns KFC. "We??re focused on delivering the world??s best chicken to our customers."

But Popeyes has its "work cut out to suburbanize," said Bob Goldin, Technomic executive vice president. Surbanites are more likely to go to Panera Bread than a fried chicken place, he said.