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Burger King announces 2008 growth plan

World No. 2 hamburger chain expects new items; pop culture marketing to boost earnings by 15%

Burger King announces 2008 growth plan

Burger King, the world's No. 2 hamburger chain, said Wednesday it plans to start selling several new items this year, including two specialty Whoppers, a wrap, smoothies and even macaroni and cheese for children.
In a meeting with analysts, Burger King Holdings Inc. said it expects earnings per share to grow by 15 percent this fiscal year and described strategies that include opening more new restaurants, employing a new broiler that cooks better burgers, and continuing to run advertisements with pop culture tie-ins to keep the brand fresh in the minds of fast food diners.
Burger King has posted 16 straight quarters of growth in same-store sales, or sales in stores open at least a year. Since going public in May 2006, Burger King has introduced late night hours, a breakfast value menu and a spicy chicken sandwich, while heavily marketing its flame-broiled burger concept and its "Have It Your Way" mantra.
But Burger King has space for growth, as it has roughly one-third of the restaurants that industry leader McDonald's Corp. does, and was a late-bloomer in introducing a value menu and late night hours.
"We think this is just the beginning ... there's much more room to grow," Chief Executive John Chidsey said Wednesday.
The Miami-based company said it hoped to lure customers with several new products in 2008. Some of them, such as grilled chicken tenders and apple fries - fresh apples cut to look like french fries - already have been made public.
The new items discussed Wednesday include an Angry Bacon and Cheese Whopper with spicy, crispy onions, and the Indy Whopper, which will have bacon and pepper jack cheese and will be promoted together with the new Indiana Jones movie this summer. (A regular Whopper with no bacon or cheese has 670 calories and 39 grams of fat, according to Burger King's Web site.)
Also in the works are a BK Wrapper, three new flavors for its iced coffee line, a steakhouse burger, smoothies and even Kraft macaroni and cheese.
"What you see is a construct here that is a very broad-shouldered menu," said Russ Klein, Burger King's president of global marketing and innovation.
Klein also said Burger King will keep using promotions with movie, video game and sports tie-ins, citing past success with advertising blitzes using The Simpsons, Transformers, the NFL, Spider-Man 3 and the Xbox game system.
"Advertising is becoming more borderless and pan-regional around the world," Klein said.
Burger King is targeting what the company calls the "superfan," whose demographics include people 18 to 49 years old who patronize Burger King five times a month and eat fast food 16 times a month. Klein said an increase from an average of five to six "superfan" visits a month would increase traffic by 9 percent.