Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits opened its 500th location in Surf City, N.C., Wednesday, and said it has plans to accelerate expansion at a rate of one new store every nine days through the end of the year.
The Charlotte, N.C.-based quick-service chain is projected to generate nearly $800 million in systemwide sales this year, with the number of units expected to hit 520 by the end of 2011, said Eric Newman, Bojangles’ executive vice president.
Bojangles’, which generates 40 percent of its sales from its all-day breakfast menu — notably its breakfast biscuits — generates average unit volume of about $1.7 million annually. Newman said the chain has enjoyed same-store growth for five years.
The 34-year-old brand is expanding in two chief areas — in its core states of North and South Carolina, and the southeastern states outside of the Carolinas from Washington, D.C., to Orlando, Fla., to Tennessee and Alabama, Newman said.
In North Carolina, the expansion is focused on the markets of Charlotte, Raleigh, Wilmington, Winston Salem/Greensboro and west North Carolina in the Asheville area, Newman said.
He said the 500th Bojangles’ is a 3,800-square-foot prototype in a beach town near Wilmington, which is considered to be a high-growth area in the chain’s home region.
In the surrounding states, Bojangles’ is looking to grow in the Chattanooga, Knoxville, Roanoke, Richmond, Tidewater and Atlanta areas.
The lightly penetrated markets of Birmingham and Orlando, Fla., also are on Bojangles’ expansion map.
Bojangles’ opened 35 new locations last year, he said.
Newman said moderated construction costs, some loosening of the lending markets and pent-up demand by franchisees is helping to drive the chain’s stepped-up expansion pace. “We’ve come out from under the radar,” Newman said. “It’s time to increase market share.”
He said Bojangles’ gets franchise inquiries from around the country and from around the world, but the chain is going to take a disciplined approach to expansion.
“We’re not going to do it in a shotgun way,” he said.
Bojangles’ also is weighing the placement of outlets in different types of venues. The chain, for example, opened a restaurant at Union Station in Washington, D.C, Newman said.