Remember Col. Sanders? KFC owner Yum Brands still has 4,000 stores around the U.S., open every day. But market share has sunk from 40% at the end of the 1990s to just 22% today. Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A, the family-owned, Christian-friendly chain that keeps the Lord's day holy by shutting on Sundays, is now the nation's most popular bird-meat meal purveyor, with 26% (more than 1 in 4) of the chicken-chain market, despite a count of just 2,000 stores, half KFC's total.
And fast-food leader McDonald's (with its Chicken McNuggets, McChicken Sandwich, and all) ought to be worried, writes Janney Capital Markets analyst Mark Kalinowski, in a report to clients.
McDonald's still outsells evey other U.S. restaurant chain, with $36 billion in sales last year, triple Subway or Starbuck's, nearly four times Wendy's or Burger King or Taco Bell. But Chick-fil-A, #9 with $5 billion in sales, has been growing rapidly larger -- tripling its market share in 14 years -- and could actually add more sales over the next decade than McDonald's, if current trends hold.
Adding to McDonald's worries are a recent skid in sales since the recession ended. Kalinowski expects McDonald's sales will actually fall lin June, with second-quarter profits also likely to slip below last year's levels.