Bojangles' executive on expanding beyond the Southeast


Already proliferating, Bojangles' chicken chain may add "hundreds" of new locations in the Southeast and could move into other regions it had abandoned after a previous expansion, a top executive said.

The chain aleady has 583 restaurants in 10 states, primarily in the Southeast and the District of Columbia, as well as three locations in Honduras. Sales grew nearly 7 percent last year to $925.2 million.

Katie Little | CNBC

From 2010 to 2013, the fast-food chain's U.S. units rose by 18 percent, outpacing growth of competitors Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen, Yum Brands' Kentucky Fried Chicken and Chick-fil-A, according to market research firm Technomic.

Bojangles' building spree is set to continue this year as rival Chick-fil-A rapidly moves into new markets in the Midwest, West and Northeast.

"We'll open 55 to 60 restaurants this year," Eric Newman, Bojangles executive vice president, said in an interview with CNBC. "Depending on how you look at that, it's one every six days."

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For now, the company plans to concentrate this expansion in its existing U.S. base. But moving forward, the company's fried chicken and biscuits could be soon outside its traditional markets.

"I think we could go up and down the East Coast, further west, and maybe the Midwest," Newman said."We are entertaining franchise conversations in the various states that are new to us."

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New nontraditional locations, such as in airports, military bases and colleges, won't be as limited to the Southeast.

"I think that nontraditional locations can be a vanguard for future development," he said. "In other words, we will allow ourselves to go further from home with these locations."

This potential tiptoeing out of its traditional base follows a previous expansion strategy that took the chain to such far-flung areas as the Midwest, New York, Northeast, South Florida and the West, Newman said.

"In the 1980s, there was a very broad expansion and not much thought given to the ability to support very broad and quick growing areas," he said, adding that the company later pulled back from this strategy and shuttered these locations.

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As Bojangles' continues to grow, its focus will remain on building market share and increasing consumer awareness of its brand.

On the technology side, it's also focused on revamping its point-of-sale system, which could increase its technological capabilities as competitors ramp up efforts in mobile ordering and payment.

"We were working on an entirely new POS system which I think will allow us to do all kinds of things," Newman said.

—By CNBC's Katie Little.