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What's driving Burger King's sales surge?

Burger King just logged its best quarterly sales performance in seven years. according to the burger chain's CEO. Burger King did especially well during breakfast and in introducing new products.  

Nick Ut/AP/File
A car stops at the drive-thru at a Burger King restaurant near downtown Los Angeles. The home of the Whopper enjoyed its biggest sales jump in nearly a decade during the first quarter, boosted by a new flavor of its signature burger and a popular 2 for $5 promotion, the company reported Monday, April 27, 2015.

Restaurant Brands International reported strong Q1 sales for both its Burger King and Tim Hortons brands. In doing so it countered two common media assumptions: that Millennials have walked away from QSR burgers and that Taco Bell has significantly cut into competitors’ breakfast business.

Burger King comparable sales were up 4.6% globally and +6.9% in the U.S. RBI CEO Daniel Schwartz said it was Burger King’s best quarterly performance in seven years. Tim Hortons’ +5.3% comp-sales performance (+8.9% in the U.S.) was its best in three years.

Schwartz said the Burger King gain was built on strong sales across all dayparts, with particularly strong results during breakfast (about 14% of the brand’s business). A “2 for $4” Croissan’wich promotion was effective without requiring new products, he noted. The return of Chicken Fries and the BLT Whopper did well, too. A new Dark Roast Coffee helped Tim Hortons’ breakfast sales.

But the jump in same-store sales signals that Burger King is drawing incremental business, Schwartz said, including more visits from millennials. “I think were getting those customers excited about coming back to Burger King again,” he said. Chicken Fries’ return was built on social-media marketing targeting young adults.

Delivery is certainly interesting as a future option but isn’t a meaningful part of Burger King’s business now, Schwartz said.

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