Burger King Seeks to Flush King-Size Problems as McD Scales Down Portions

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New York-McDonald's Corp., days after announcing plans to eliminate Super Size fries and drinks in order to simplify operations and distance itself from its image of promoting huge portions, posted a 20.1 percent increase in U.S. same-store sales for February, marking the sixth straight month of double-digit gains. And Wendy's, which is testing two new store designs intended to give the concept a more fast-casual look and recently introduced a new promotional entree salad, generated February comparable-restaurant sales gains of 9.9 percent at company-owned units and 7.6 percent to 7.8 percent at franchised restaurants.

Burger King Corp., in contrast to its key competitors, has been unable to fix its longtime problems-such as management instability and lackluster marketing and product rollouts-which have plagued the chain with sagging sales. Weeks after the abrupt departure of president Bob Nilsen, BK appointed Clyde Rucker chief of staff for Brad Blum, the Miami-based chain's chief executive. Rucker, a nine-year company veteran, will retain his post as senior vice president, diversity, and will serve as a member of the company's executive leadership team, according to BK.

The nation's second-largest burger chain is expected to launch later this month a premium product dubbed "Tender Crisp Chicken Sandwich." In early March, BK started a quiet rollout of the sandwich in many large markets, including New York and Chicago. Operators said the product already has been a strong seller, even before the debut of television ads. Other products in the pipeline include premium salads and a bunless steakburger. Last fall, Burger King launched a line of low-fat chicken baguette sandwiches that failed to spark sales, and the product was reengineered earlier this year. -Nation's Restaurant News

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