Restaurant Brands International CEO Jose Cil said on Friday that the company’s Burger King brand wants to increase its breakfast sales, which currently account for 13% of the chain’s business.
He also admitted that it was not the first time he had said this. âWe have mentioned the Burger King breakfast occasion to you several times over the past 12 months,â Cil told investors during RBI’s first quarter earnings call. “But frankly, [we] haven’t made much progress.
That’s because the company has focused on a number of other initiatives, particularly its response to the coronavirus. In addition, morning business has been a challenge over the past 12 months as the pandemic has changed consumer habits.
But breakfast is a potentially significant opportunity for the Miami-based chain, and one that highlights a recent shift in marketing focus within the company. Burger King wants to focus on longer term sales initiatives rather than âshort term strategiesâ.
âI’ve learned a lot over the years,â Cil said in an interview. âSometimes you learn that because of the short-term decisions you make, you don’t have the opportunity to build something that will last.â
Burger King’s US comparable store sales increased 6.6% in the first quarter ended March 31. It was pretty much stable on a two year basis. But the company is looking again at rival McDonald’s, where same-store sales rose 13.7% on a two-year basis.
Burger King is hoping its new hand-breaded chicken sandwich, now in about half of its restaurants, along with digital strategies and a loyalty program, can help drive longer-term results. But the company has long wanted to boost its morning business to better match McDonald’s, which makes about a quarter of its sales in the morning.
The company also has a new rival for the breakfast business at Wendy’s, which launched the business a year ago and quickly hit 7% of its sales despite the pandemic. The company hopes to quickly reach 10% and beyond.
Cil said on Friday that Burger King was working with a group of franchisees “to build a long-term plan” on food and beverage products. The goal, he said, is âto make Burger King the preferred breakfast destination in our spaceâ.
âThere is still so much more we can do beyond the existing breakfast business in terms of menu expansion, food and beverage innovation, product quality, daily value. and awareness, âCil said.
But the company also expects this to be a long-term strategy, rather than a short-term effort. The company had some success in the first quarter with a French toast sandwich. But he wants to put in place strategies that will work for years to come.
âIt won’t be an overnight thing,â Cil said in an interview. âIt’s not a race. I have been there for a long time. Over the past five years, we have launched a few breakfast initiatives. But we didn’t have a long-term view on this.