With chicken, Burger King will optimize its platform to “ensure unique offerings that we can execute on consistently.” Curtis said this includes thoughtful menu architecture that features the premium chicken sandwich and extensions, celebrates the original chicken sandwich, and offers a “fun, new approach” to chicken fries.
The executive also noted the importance of creating “a powerful ‘Have it Your Way’ value menu and addressing its rightful place in our overall menu architecture.”
For branding and advertising, the fast-food giant is working on positioning and how to build relevancy with all audiences. To this end, Burger King put its creative and media accounts into review. Curtis said branding is also reflected in physical infrastructure; 30 percent of the system has the latest “BK of Tomorrow” image and technology elements. The restaurant company is averaging about 500 remodels per year.
To support franchisees, Burger King increased its U.S. and Canada corporate field and training positions by more than 50 percent since the start of 2021. Also, the chain is developing its employee value proposition and will start providing franchisees with market insights on competitive wages and benefits to help attract and retain workers.
In addition, Burger King will pilot new training methods, like “in the moment” QR codes that help employees complete everyday tasks more efficiently. To alleviate profitability struggles, the brand lifted price caps on some items and removed the Whopper from its core discounts. In the future, the chain will continue to look for opportunity with incremental discounting. Top operators are sharing best practices for profitability, as well.
To carry out these initiatives, Burger King built new teams to better leverage guest insights and operational, performance, and digital analytics.
“We are implementing better testing protocols to ensure our advertising and our initiatives are well-chosen and more impactful,” Curtis said. “And given the increased rigor of our new processes, it’s fair to expect more of an impact from our initiatives in the back half of 2022.”
Burger King’s international business, which comprised nearly 60 percent of the company’s global systemwide sales in Q4, is faring much better. Same-store sales outside the U.S. lifted 19.4 percent in the fourth quarter, or a 7.5 percent increase across two years. In 2021 overall, comps rose 13.6 percent, or a 3.5 percent lift on a two-year stack.
The performance was driven by Spain and Brazil returning to pre-pandemic levels, Canada up in the high-single digits versus 2019, and Australia, South Korea, and the U.K. generating double-digit growth.
Burger King finished 2021 with 19,247 stores worldwide—net growth of 622 restaurants. That includes 7,105 in the U.S. (net increase of 24) and 12,142 internationally (net increase of 598). Global systemwide sales increased to $23.45 billion, up from $20 million in 2020.