The parent company of fast-food franchise chains Burger King and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen reported Friday that it added new restaurants at nearly the same pace in the first quarter as in the same time in 2018.
During the quarter, Toronto-based Restaurant Brands International added 148 net new restaurants, four shy of the first three months of 2018.
Jose Cil, Restaurant Brands’ CEO, told investors on the company’s earnings call that the first quarter is a “strong early indicator of our return to meaningful growth.”
The company also owns Tim Hortons, a Canadian coffee chain that closed 67 locations during the quarter. Its growth came outside Canada in the United States with 129, taking the total number of locations to 4,987.
Popeyes represented the biggest increase among the parent company's brands with 139 in the United States and 20 around the world, increasing the total to 3,495.
Burger King, the largest chain Restaurant Brands owns, saw the number of U.S. locations fall by 207. Its numbers increased by 50 in other countries. Burger King has 11,594 outside the United States compared to 7,097 in the United States.
The company announced in 2019 a quest to reach 40,000 restaurants in eight to 10 years, which would more than double the current count of 17,173.
For the quarter, systemwide sales among franchises increased 1.4% to $7.9 billion. Tim Hortons' sales fell 4.9% while Burger King showed a 1.8% increase and Popeyes stores recorded a 7% increase. The upside for Tim Hortons was a 30% increase in digital sales.