Burger King loses No. 2 sales crown to Wendy’s

The Washington Times Daily - - Business - BY CANDICE CHOI

NEW YORK | Wendy’s has de­throned Burger King as the coun­try’s sec­ond-big­gest ham­burger chain.

Wendy’s edged out Burger King in U.S. sales vol­ume for the first time last year since Wendy’s was founded in 1969, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the food in­dus­try re­search firm Tech­nomic Inc. that is set to be re­leased next month.

Wendy’s had sales of $8.5 bil­lion in 2011, com­pared with $8.4 bil­lion for Burger King. Mcdon­ald’s re­mained far larger than both with $34.2 bil­lion in sales.

The fig­ures are based on Tech­nomic’s es­ti­mates of sys­temwide sales at fran­chise and com­pa­ny­owned restau­rants, rather than cor­po­rate rev­enue, which in­cludes fees from fran­chise op­er­a­tors. World­wide, Burger King still has far more restau­rants than Wendy’s and re­mains the sec­ond-big­gest ham­burger chain be­hind Mcdon­ald’s.

Both Burger King and Wendy’s have strug­gled in re­cent years to keep up with the growth of Mcdon­ald’s, which has man­aged to keep prices low through the re­ces­sion, while in­tro­duc­ing new menu items and re­mod­el­ing restau­rants. Sales are up 26 per­cent in the past five years at Mcdon­ald’s, up 9 per­cent at Wendy’s and flat at Burger King, ac­cord­ing to Tech­nomic.

Burger King has been re-eval­u­at­ing its busi­ness since it was ac­quired by in­vest­ment firm 3G Cap­i­tal in 2010. The pri­vately held com­pany, based in Mi­ami, re­tired the res­tau­rant chain’s mas­cot “The King” last year and launched an ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign fo­cused more on food.

De­spite its edge over Burger King, Wendy’s also been on a mis­sion to rein­vent it­self as a higher-end ham­burger chain with items such as the Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy burger in­tro­duced last fall.

CEO Emil Brolick blamed the Dublin, Ohiobased com­pany’s poor per­for­mance in re­cent years on “self-in­flicted wounds.” He laid out plans this year to raise stan­dards for em­ploy­ees and up­date stores with an airier, more mod­ern look.

The sales rank­ings for the top five res­tau­rant chains have un­der­gone an­other dra­matic shift in the past five years, ac­cord­ing to Tech­nomic. In 2006, the No. 2 and No. 3 spots were held by Burger King and Wendy’s re­spec­tively, mak­ing the top three com­pa­nies all ham­burger chains.

Sub­way now is No. 2 with $11.4 bil­lion in sales last year, and Star­bucks is No. 3 with $9.8 bil­lion. U.S. sales at both com­pa­nies have grown at much faster rates than the top three ham­burger chains, with Sub­way sales up 48 per­cent from five years ago and Star­bucks sales up 39 per­cent.

The final Tech­nomic re­port with sales for the top 500 res­tau­rant chains is set to be re­leased April 13.

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