TORONTO — Net income and revenues both increased in the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2021, for Restaurant Brands International Inc. (RBI) even while staffing issues led to a smaller menu at Burger King and a reduction in comparable-store sales at Popeyes.
The labor shortage and inflation both are bringing about change at the company, said José E. Cil, chief executive officer of RBI, in a Feb. 15 call to discuss 2021 financial results.
“On labor, we're taking a proactive approach to improve the situation, including providing toolkits for hiring and retention, expanding the support from our field and training teams, and working on simplifying back-of-house processes to make it easier and more rewarding for our franchisees' restaurant staff to work in their restaurants,” he said. “On pricing, we took price in 2021 at each of our brands, and given the level of commodity cost and labor inflation we're seeing, we expect additional price increases in 2022 and are working closely with franchisees to make the best decision for guests and our franchisees' P and Ls (profit and loss).”
Net income attributable to common shareholders of Toronto-based RBI was $838 million, or $2.71 per share on the common stock, in the fiscal year, which was up 72% from $486 million, or $1.61 per share, in the previous year. Total revenues of $5.74 billion were up 16% from $4.97 billion.
Burger King achieved 9% comparable-store sales growth in 2021. Menu changes in the United States began late in the year.
“At the end of December, we rolled out our first of two waves of menu simplification, removing low-volume items so the team members can focus on serving our most loved products and providing guests a fantastic Burger King experience consistently,” said Thomas Curtis, president, US and Canada at Burger King. “The first wave had no material impact on comparable sales, and we are confident that the improved execution we're starting to see will drive guest retention and frequency for our restaurants.”
Burger King will continue to promote the Whopper.
“The Whopper is a multibillion-dollar brand, and we need to treat it as such,” Curtis said. “You should expect to see new extensions and innovations around the Whopper, some of which are already proven winners in our international markets. We expect they will test and perform well here in the US as well.”
Labor issues challenged Popeyes, too.
“While Popeyes unit volumes remain incredibly strong, we did see a 1.8% year-over-year decline in home market comparable sales as a result of staffing challenges and competitive pressures,” Cil said. “Ongoing labor challenges led to reduced operating hours and service modes, impacting comparable sales by roughly 1%.”
RBI also owns Tim Hortons, which saw comparable-store sales increase 11% in the year, and on Dec. 15, 2021, acquired Firehouse Subs, which went over $1 billion in systemwide sales in 2021.
For RBI companywide in the fourth quarter, net income attributable to common shareholders was $179 million, or 57¢ per share on the common stock, which was up 97% from $91 million, or 30¢, in the previous year’s fourth quarter. Total revenues in the quarter increased 14% to $1.55 billion from $1.36 billion.