None of RBI’s chains grew more than Popeyes, which opened a net of 66 stores (30 in the U.S. and 33 internationally)—the highest Q1 mark since it was acquired five years ago. The chicken chain is on pace to reach record net unit growth in 2022, including the opening of more than 200 locations in North America. More than half of those will feature double drive-thru lanes.
Popeyes finished the first quarter with 3,771 stores globally—2,784 in the U.S. and 987 internationally. That’s 8 percent growth year-over-year, the highest among any RBI brand.
Despite strong unit expansion, U.S. same-store sales slipped 4.6 percent, due to staffing challenges, fewer operating hours, lapping of 2021 stimulus, and pressure from competing brands launching chicken sandwiches. The chain received positive contribution from its $6 Big Box, and digital sales mixed 18 percent.
In the five years since RBI bought Popeyes, systemwide sales grew from $3.2 billion to more than $5.5 billion, adjusted EBITDA more than doubled to excess of $225 million, and more than 1,000 stores have been added to the portfolio.
“Improvements and operations and service levels remain key focus areas and represent a real sales growth opportunity,” Cil said. “I'm happy to say we've seen early signs of progress from recent efforts with our guests and operations metrics improving year-over-year. This progress reflects a larger supporting field team and enhanced operations framework that celebrates wins and adds additional transparency into relative performance and areas of opportunity.”
Firehouse Subs, which RBI acquired for $1 billion last year, saw U.S. AUV reach an all-time high of nearly $920,000 on a trailing 12-month basis. Domestic same-store sales grew 4.5 percent in the first quarter, on top of 24.2 percent growth in the year-ago period. The fast casual’s digital channels mixed more than 30 percent. Firehouse has 1,219 restaurants globally (1,169 in the U.S. and 50 internationally), up slightly from 1,198 in Q1 2021.
Tim Hortons’ Canada comps rose 10.1 percent percent, but for the rest of the world, same-store sales slid 1.2 percent. The coffee chain continues to be RBI’s highest-performing digital chain, with the channels mixing more than 36 percent in Q1. Tim Hortons completed the quarter with 5,320 stores globally, including 3,928 in Canada and 1,392 internationally.