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Burger King and Popeyes have a stealth digital-delivery business: CEO

Brian Sozzi

While Starbucks and Chipotle have stolen all the headlines with their recent fast-food delivery pushes, Restaurant Brands International’s ( QSR ) newly minted CEO, Jose Cil, tells Yahoo Finance he has quietly amassed the company’s own formidable delivery network for its Burger King and Popeyes chains — and has plans to expand it even more.

Fried chicken chain Popeyes — which Restaurant Brands bought in 2017 for $1.8 billion — now has 1,100 or so restaurants doing delivery in the U.S., or about 50% of the chain. The delivery business has served up “incremental” sales for Popeyes, Cil told Wall Street analysts on an earnings call in February. Meanwhile, delivery is offered at Restaurant Brands’ 7,000 Burger King locations worldwide. In the U.S., delivery is available at 3,000 locations.

Some back of the envelope math by Yahoo Finance has Restaurant Brands offering delivery in slightly more than 30% of its 24,000-plus restaurants globally. Not bad for a company that was voted by QSR Magazine last year as having the fastest drive-thru times for Burger King. Cil says Burger King has also gone live with mobile order and pay capabilities, similar to Starbucks’ order ahead function.

Cil has a lot on his plate

Suffice it to say, it’s showtime for Cil.

Restaurant Brands, which also owns coffee chain Tim Horton’s, said on January 23 that long-time CEO Daniel Schwartz would shift to the executive chairman role. Cil had been Burger King’s president since 2014. He has touched most of Burger King’s operations around the world for some 18 years, making the appointment logical.

The lawyer by trade joined Burger King in 2000. He had a brief 11-month stint at Walmart, and then returned to Restaurant Brands following its acquisition by 3G Capital.

Cil has a lot on his plate, to say the very least. In addition to moving quicker to roll out digital ordering options and loyalty programs, Cil is tasked with growing Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Horton’s globally. As it stands, Restaurant Brands has plans to open 1,500 restaurants in China over the next 10 years. Cil says Tim Horton’s locations in China have already been opened as part of that initiative.

The company opened its first Popeyes locations (eight in Brazil) outside the U.S. in the fourth quarter.

Cill will further likely be the one to sign off on the company’s next big acquisition. Restaurant Brands and backer 3G Capital are viewed as consummate dealmakers. With the parent company’s business tossing out a good amount of cash, Cil will have an opportunity to further its reach (breakfast, perhaps).

No acquisitions are on the horizon, Cil tells Yahoo Finance.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSozzi

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