With sales on a decline and wait times at the drive-thru getting longer, Burger King has decided to take a more drastic approach to righting the ship. The popular burger chain will be discontinuing several menu items in order to simplify and streamline operations.
It's a tactic many fast-food brands have used during the pandemic in order to relieve the growing pressure on its kitchen staff and drive-thrus. McDonald's, for example, cut the all-day breakfast, while Taco Bell's removal of a dozen items at once seemed particularly heavy-handed. But those chains ended up benefitting from the simplifications of their menus, whether in increased sales or faster service times, and Burger King has clearly taken note.
According to USA Today, Jose Cil, CEO of Restaurant Brands International which owns Burger King, said the chain's drive-thru times have slipped significantly and the chain will be trimming down the menu in order to jumpstart faster service.
"We're working on eliminating SKUs that—we're simplifying processes that have become a bit too complicated in terms of sandwich builds, and doing a better job in terms of the menu design to make it easier for the customer, at the drive-thru in particular, to make quicker decisions," he said at Morgan Stanley's Global Consumer and Retail Conference this week. It remains to be seen which items are getting the boot in the coming weeks.
The latest move comes after the chain reported disappointing sales in the last two earnings quarters. In the second quarter, Burger King's domestic same-store sales grew by 3.1% compared to the same period in 2019, but this was an underwhelming metric when compared to its biggest competitor McDonald's, which grew its sales by 15%. Burger King's third quarter earnings showed a sales decline of 2.8% compared to the same period in 2019, which the chain attributed, in part, to its underperforming new releases and value deals.
Not to mention, Burger King lost its spot as America's second-largest burger chain by systemwide sales to Wendy's—the square-pattied competitor having outearned the King in 2020.
In August, Burger King said it was planning several major changes to win back its customers, including a fully integrated digital experience, modernized restaurants, and a better, more dynamic menu. Let's hope the new menu cuts make room for a fresh start for Burger King.
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