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Burger King franchisee sees sales soar

Burger King’s largest franchisee posted a same-store sales jump for its 798 units of 7.5%, nearly doubling the gain for the chain as a whole.

The franchise operator, Carrols Corp., said sales at its oldest stores, or what it calls legacy restaurants, nearly matched the comp increase for more recently acquired units, 7.5% to 7.7%. Some analysts noted that the increases were the highest posted to date for the third quarter by a publicly owned quick-service operation.

Integrating newly purchased restaurants into the fold is an ongoing effort for the company, which has been in an aggressive acquisition mode since 2015. The operator has added 171 stores since then, 60 of them during the first nine months of 2017. It noted that the purchase of four more is expected to close this month.

Carrols’ sales gains compare with the 4% comp gain that franchisor Restaurant Brands International pegged for the chain as a whole in the third quarter.

Carrols is now a single-brand operator, having spun off Taco Cabana and Pollo Tropical into a free-standing public company, Fiesta Restaurant Group. Those brands posted same-store sales declines of 12.6% and 10.9%, respectively.

The company attributed the strong performance of its Burger King restaurants to the chain’s so-called barbell strategy, or offering bargain-priced menu items for everyday visitors and premium selections for occasional customers or regulars who want to trade up.

It cited such particularly strong-selling examples as the 2 Whoppers for $6 deal and the new premium-priced Crispy Chicken Sandwich.

Sales from the restaurants rose 19.4% year over year, to a total of $285.2 million, but net income slipped to $2.8 million from $4.5 million in the year-ago quarter. Profits were hurt by acquisition and lease-impairment charges.

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