Friday, October 27, 2006

Former-sibling rivalry

Tim Hortons has been out of the fold for merely a few weeks, but Wendy’s is already seeing some side effects of spinning off the monster Canadian brand. The burger chain has cited the rollout of hot breakfast sandwiches and other morning options as a key part of its comeback effort, with projections that the a.m. menu could add $225,000 in sales per Wendy’s unit.

And what’s fueling Hortons’ sales growth these days? In part a hot breakfast sandwich, rolled out in the United States at the end of September. “We expect that the breakfast sandwich will contribute to continued sales growth,” Hortons CEO Paul House said in lauding the new item’s impact on sales. He also noted that the chain is finding new success in the States, which it largely struggled to do under Wendy’s tutelage.

The breakfast overlap isn’t the only indication that the chains’ test kitchens might’ve been aware of what the other was doing while they were part of the same company. Among the items that Wendy’s said it has in test: A chunky chicken salad sandwich, made on its new Frescatta fresh-baked bread.

In explaining why its units enjoyed a 9.2 percent increase in same-store sales (or 5.9 percent in Canada), Hortons cited the success of such promotional items as a chunky chicken salad wrap. Different by light-years, of course, from a chunky chicken salad sandwich.

Wendy’s said it’s also testing oversized Big Dipper chicken nuggets. No word yet on a comparable product from Hortons.


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