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Taking Flight

Chicken empire conquers new ground.

Atlanta-based AFC Enterprises Inc., parent company of Churchs Chicken and Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits, has big plans for the new millennium. Already a giant in the domestic and international fast-food industries, AFC plans to further diversify its holdings. With last year's acquisition of Chesapeake Bagel Bakery, AFC now has more than 2,600 restaurants worldwide with sales in excess of $1.5 billion.

Seeking to add more value to the company, AFC has earmarked $100 million to acquire food-service brands in the sandwich, pizza, coffee and Italian cuisine markets. In the future, AFC plans to conquer nonfood franchise concepts, such as automotive maintenance and business services. In addition, the company has become a corporate sponsor of Habitat for Humanity, donating 180,000 man- hours and $2 million toward home construction in the United States and overseas.

The company's vigor is fairly remarkable considering that as recently as 1992, both chicken chains were bankrupt. AFC bought them from their parent company and brought in new staff to reorganize operations and design an image-enhancement program. A year later, the chains were not only out of bankruptcy but had grown by 77 restaurants.

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This article was originally published in the March 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Taking Flight.

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