RBI and Popeyes: Winner winner, chicken dinner?

By Jeni Marinucci

Restaurant Brands International (RBI) is extending its QSR kingdom with the recent purchase of Popeyes, the Louisiana-style fried chicken restaurant. RBI, which owns both Burger King and now Tim Hortons, announced the $1.8 billion purchase earlier this week. The move sees RBI broaden its share of the QSR market in Canada, something analysts have been forecasting for the organization, especially since the company’s 2014 purchase of Tim Hortons.

Will Slabaugh, managing director at Stephens, Inc., an investment and finance firm in Arkansas, tells CTV News that the RBI deal “doesn’t come as a surprise to analysts.” He adds that it makes sense for the chain to add more variety to their restaurant holdings, but that criteria for acquisition or purchase is a bit trickier, citing the desire for position in a new global market. CTV notes Slabaugh saying RBI is, “likely looking for chains that are attractive to consumers around the world — not just Americans.”

While the Tim Hortons chain owned by RBI is distinctly Canadian-centric, they are making inroads in the American marketplace. However, global markets seem to be the focus of RBI, which currently owns over 20,000 restaurants worldwide. The addition of Popeyes adds over 2,600 locations to this number.

How Canada will respond to an increased presence of Popeyes in the fried chicken market remains to be seen, and with the goal of global growth, Canada’s success isn’t the be-all and end-all for RBI. But there seems to be no indicator of slowing growth for RBI, either. CEO Danial Schwartz told CTV the company is excited about the Popeyes acquisition:

“We’re really excited we’re adding another iconic and successful brand, one that has really rich Louisiana heritage that’s going to resonate with guests all around the world. I think it was always hinted at that there might be more brands in the future.”

The deal is expected to be complete by April 2017, as long as more than 50 per cent of shareholders approve the deal. But with no immediate plans to alter the management structure of Popeyes, it is expected to pass shareholder review, and is seen as a sound economic investment for RBI and Popeyes to compete in the growing QSR global market.

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