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KFC Aims To Bolster Lunch Business

September 16, 1999

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ The fast-food chicken giant known for serving up meals by the bucket has started putting chicken on a bun.

KFC started offering chicken sandwiches at most stores nationwide this week and plans on unveiling a media blitz this weekend to promote the new menu line that puts it in head-to-head competition with hamburger chains.

KFC’s line of five, freshly made sandwiches is meant to expand its traditional chicken-and-potatoes dinner fare and bolster its lunch business by appealing to people in a hurry.

The company expects to capture a large share of the chicken sandwich business, which it said has grown into a $4.2 billion enterprise as hamburger chains added chicken to their sandwich lineups.

KFC said it will spend $75 million on advertising, equipment, new menu boards to introduce the sandwiches, including one that incorporates KFC founder Col. Harland Sanders’ original 11 herbs and spices.

``This is KFC’s most significant initiative since the introduction of the bucket in 1957,″ Chuck Rawley, KFC president and chief operating officer, said Thursday. ``We expect to capture our fair share of the chicken sandwich market during the next 12 months.″

KFC has spent the past three years developing the sandwiches, which have been test-marketed for months in Kansas City and Atlanta, said KFC spokesman Michael Tierney.

To spread word of the nationwide sales, KFC will launch network television advertising of its sandwiches Sunday night, Tierney said.

The new product should be a winner for the company by filling what’s been perceived as a void in KFC’s menu, one analyst said.

``It’s going to turn out to be very positive for the company,″ said Andrew Barish, restaurant analyst for BancBoston Robertson Stephens. ``I think consumers have often wondered why KFC didn’t offer a sandwich product.″

KFC, a subsidiary of Tricon Global Restaurants Inc., has more than 10,300 restaurants in 83 countries, including 5,132 in the United States.

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