Bojangles’ roars ahead with Southeast expansion

The Bojangles on West Boulevard in Charlotte.
The Bojangles on West Boulevard in Charlotte.

Charlotte-based Bojangles’ is full-speed ahead on the ambitious expansion plans the chicken-and-biscuits chain outlined before going public.

Eager to satisfy Wall Street’s appetite for growth, Bojangles’ has said it intends to grow in areas where it’s already present and popular, then gradually move into neighboring markets.

Its next step: West Virginia and Kentucky.

Bojangles’ opened its first West Virginia location Monday in Princeton as part of a development agreement intended to open “multiple” new restaurants in the state over the next few years, according to a statement from the company Monday.

The company signed a separate multi-restaurant development agreement with another franchise group that plans to open several more restaurants in “major markets” in both West Virginia and Kentucky starting this year.

Kentucky currently only has two Bojangles’ restaurants, and a third will open in Corbin in August.

“Bojangles’ has a fiercely loyal customer following throughout the Southeast, and we are excited to expand our footprint in both West Virginia and Kentucky to bring more of our famous made-from-scratch menu items to new markets and new guests,” Bojangles’ Chief Executive Officer Clifton Rutledge said in the statement.

The chain will open another 50 to 57 restaurants total in 2015. It currently operates 635 stores, primarily in the Southeast, with about two-thirds of its restaurants in the Carolinas.

In its initial public offering filing, Bojangles’ said it plans to increase the number of restaurant locations by 7 to 8 percent a year, mostly in markets in which it’s already concentrated.

“We will grow out our adjacent states first, and we’ll do that at the same pace … that we’ve been doing for several years in a row now,” Rutledge told the Observer May 8, the day the company went public.

Bojangles’ shares closed Tuesday at $23.55, down less than 1 percent.

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