Chick-fil-A steals KFC's chicken crown
The smaller chain has fewer restaurants than the Colonel and is closed on Sundays, but it's now ringing up more sales.
The days when fried chicken was synonymous with a certain white-haired southern gentleman are over, at least in the U.S. A new champion has claimed KFC's long-held chicken crown: Chick-fil-A.
The change atop the leaderboard appears undisputed: Yum Brands (YUM), which owns KFC and has for years prided itself as "the leader in the U.S. chicken [quick-service restaurant] segment," removed that very phrase from the company's most recent annual report.
Anyone in the northern half of the U.S. is likely scratching her head and wondering why she hasn't seen Chick-fil-A outlets opening in the neighborhood. Last year Chick-fil-A only had about 1,775 U.S. stores to KFC's 4,491, and most are in the South.
Yet in dollar terms the Colonel is coming up short even with that much larger footprint: Chick-fil-A's 2013 sales passed $5 billion, while all of KFC's U.S. restaurants rang up about $4.22 billion, according to Technomic. And that's with zero dollars coming in to Chick-fil-A on Sundays, when every restaurant is closed.
What Chick-fil-A lacks in store count, it makes up for in traffic. Each restaurant made about $3.2 million in 2013, more than three times as much as the average KFC at $938,000.
Average sales at KFC restaurants have remained largely unchanged over the past decade, while they have climbed steadily at Chick-fil-A. Same-store sales climbed by more than 3.6 percent at Chick-fil-A last year; KFC's fell by 2 percent.
KFC hit its U.S. peak by store count around 2004, when it had more than 5,500 restaurants -- over four times the number of Chick-fil-A locations -- and claimed 46 percent of the fast-food chicken market. But over the past decade the gap between the two narrowed as KFC closed stores and Chick-fil-A added more. Now, KFC's storefront advantage is just 2.5 times more than its rival, and Chick-fil-A plans to chip away with more than 100 new locations opening this year. (A representative for KFC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
Darren Tristano, an executive vice president at consultancy Technomic, called Chick-fil-A one of the most successful fast-food chains. He cited the sizable breakfast business, an average check slightly higher than competitors', and a menu that differentiates it from the big burger chains.
And fast-food chicken fans outside the South may not be puzzled by Chick-fil-A's hegemony for long. A spokesman mentioned plans for locations in the "northern, Midwest, and western states," where the company is now focusing its growth plans.
More from Businessweek
Go to chick Fil-fil-a, employee opens door, everybody smiles, tray handed to me or delivered to my clean table with food perfectly arranged, somebody comes by to make sure everything is OK. Better than most sit down restaurants. Food is awesome
Go to KFC, slip on the greasy floor, interrupt the cashier from their conversation with the fry cook, food comes in a bag because they did not care that I said I was going to eat in, find a dirty table and wipe the crumbs off with my napkin. Food is cold and greasy because it has been sitting around for 3 hours.
KFC has priced themselves out of the market. Who can afford to eat there anymore? The meal is not worth the deal colonel. however, i still like your chicken, just don't wanna pay your outrageous prices.
The Local KFC close to my house finally closed its doors about 3 months ago, and based on the ONE time I went there, about 6 months ago, I can see why.
My wife and I showed up at 4:00PM Saturday in the drive through. We wanted Chicken Sandwiches, but they didn't have any chicken breast filets ready. It was going to be a 6-7 minute wait. So, we then asked for a bucket of chicken with mostly white meat. They didn't have that, either. That was a 22 minute wait. So, we finally asked what they DID have.. Wings and Backs. That was it.
We left buying nothing. We predicted that restaurant would close if that is the way they operate. And sure enough, they did.
Chik fil A has less nasty food. And they are going to use chickens w/out hormones & drugs.
many KFC's are dirty & orders usually wrong.
KFC on the other hand has gone DOWN HILL in numerous ways, their chicken tastes like corporate chicken, and if the Colonel were alive today he would be looking for a tree to hold a lynching on. KFC should be ashamed of themselves taking a decades old winner and ruining it to the point we won't even step into one of their restaurants. Bring the Colonel's original idea back to the table and get off trying to sell the public on your so called "Rubber Grilled Chicken", go back to the basics of good food, good service, good employees and quit trying to sell fish, chicken and tacos over the same counter.
Change your ways or lose more of the market share you have left.
My wife and I ate at a KFC about 20 years and swore we would never go back, it was HORRIBLE.. About 5 years ago I decided that they must be making better chicken now so I stopped and took some home. My wife and I tried it and it was HORRIBLE. Never again will I darken their door.
I love Chick Fil-A.
Its all fast food crap. Problem with KFC is they can never settle on a good menu. Everytime i try KFC for lunch, the items are different and so is pricing.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
Stocks drift lower and bonds are hit as investors await the Fed. Prepare for higher volatility this week.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.
Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.
Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.