Restaurant Brands sales jump 15%

Restaurant Brands [NZX: RBD], New Zealand's largest fast-food store operator, increased first-quarter sales 15%.

Revenue jumped at fried chicken outlet KFC, its largest unit, and the company added more stores to burger chain Carl's Jr.

Sales rose to $89.1 million in the 12 weeks ended May 25 from $77.7 million a year earlier, the Auckland-based company says. Same-store sales, which excludes changes in store numbers, increased 7.6%.

The company's KFC unit, which accounts for almost three quarters of sales, boosted revenue 13% to $64.4 million in the quarter, ahead of the 5.2% pace a year earlier. The chain has refurbished stores, stepped up marketing and extended opening hours. Same-store sales rose 9.8%, excluding the addition of a new store at Albany, taking the chain's total to 92.

"Successful promotions in the quarter were the 'Super Zinger Burger', 'Zinger Stacker Burger', 'Crispy Burrito' as well as a highly successful 'Super Bucket' with a free rugby ball as part of the KFC New Zealand Super Rugby teams' sponsorship," the company says.

Shares in Restaurant Brands rose 1.4% to a two-week high of $4.44, and have gained 19% so far this year.

Carl's Jr, the company's newest brand, more than doubled sales to $8 million from $3.7 million after it added 10 stores to the chain, taking the total to 18. Same-store sales slipped 5.2%, compared with a 36% drop the year earlier. Some stores showed positive growth while others rolled-over high opening period sales.

Pizza Hut sales fell 7.6% to $10.5 million as the company exited four stores in line with its plan to sell underperforming outlets to franchisees. It now has to 46 stores. Same-store sales slipped 0.5% as the year-earlier period was boosted by a 'Hot Dog Stuffed Crust' promotion. Some 43 Pizza Hut stores are now operated by independent franchisees.

The company's Starbucks Coffee chain increased sales 6.6% to $6.1 million, even as it had one fewer stores than the year earlier, taking its total to 26. Same-store sales jumped 8.9%, ahead of the 5.5% increase in the year earlier. The chain benefited from better value and improved customer experience initiatives implemented over the past two years, it says.