NEW YORK (AP) — Burger King said bringing back its "Chicken Fries" helped sales jump in the U.S. and Canada by the biggest amount in two years.
The Miami-based chain said Tuesday that global sales rose 2.4 percent at established locations during the third quarter, including a 3.6 percent increase in the U.S. and Canada. McDonald's previously reported a 3.3 percent decline in the U.S. for the same time, citing heightened competition as a factor.
Alex Macedo, Burger King's president of North American operation, said improving the speed of service at restaurants and focusing on fewer, "more impactful" new menu items is paying off.
Burger King had announced in August it would bring back Chicken Fries for a limited time after "ongoing guest outcries reached a point where they could no longer be ignored." The dish — which consists of deep-fried pieces of chicken in the shape of french fries — had been introduced in 2005 and taken off the menu in 2012.
The return of the Chicken Fries is among the many marketing pushes Burger King has made since investment firm 3G Capital took the chain public again in 2012. Some efforts have flopped; the chain recently said this summer that most its franchisees would take its lower-calories "Satisfries" off the menu after less than a year.
To boost its profits, Burger King has also refranchised company-owned restaurants in the U.S. and is striking deals with local operators to open more stores around the world. This month, CEO Daniel Schwartz said it plans to open its first restaurant in India, featuring a primarily vegetarian menu. Burger King currently has nearly 14,000 locations globally.
The company also said this summer that it would acquire Tim Hortons for $11 billion and move its headquarters to Canada, where the chain known for its coffee and doughnuts is based. The companies said Tim Horton would take advantage of Burger King's expertise in striking international franchise deals to expand its global presence.
After factoring one-time charges primarily related to its purchase of Tim Hortons, Burger King Worldwide Inc. said it lost $23.5 million, or 7 cents per share. Adjusted earnings were 27 cents per share, in line with Wall Street expectations.
Total revenue rose to $278.9 million, short of the $281.8 million Wall Street expected.
Shares of Burger King fell 4 percent to $31.
Follow Candice Choi at www.twitter.com/candicechoi