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Could Chick-fil-A Become Bigger Than McDonald's?

Photo: Stockmonkeys/Flickr

A new report indicates that Chick-fil-A's US growth could surpass McDonald's over the next decade. According to an analysis by investment firm Janney Capital Markets (warning:PDF), the chicken chain could gain between $6.3 billion and $9 billion dollars in sales by 2023, compared to McDonald's, which could gain between $1 billion and $10.5 billion. The Wall Street Journal writes that the threat is not that Chick-fil-A "could overtake McDonald's" but that it "could steal much of the burger chain's potential U.S growth."

According to the Chicago Tribune, the chain "has particular room for growth" in Northern states where it doesn't have a strong presence. The report shows that in states like Michigan and Wisconsin, Chick-fil-A only has one location but McDonald's has over 400 and 250 respectively. Small numbers haven't stopped the chicken chain from growing rapidly: The WSJ notes that in 2003 "the chain was a distant second to KFC" when it came to the market share among fast food and fast-casual chicken restaurants, but in 2013 it overtook KFC to take the top spot.

Though the chain has a serious fan-base, it will have to overcome some obstacles that other fast food companies have not had to face. Chick-fil-A locations are closed on Sundays to allow employees time to "worship if they choose to do so." The chain also must continue to move past the backlash it has received for the controversial anti-gay marriage statements made by its president Dan Cathy in 2012. Regardless, Chick-fil-A continues to grow rapidly: A spokesperson for the restaurant tells the Chicago Tribune that this year the chain plans to open 103 new restaurants and enter two new markets, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

· Chick-fil-A Cruised Past KFC. Can it Rattle McDonald's? [WSJ]
· Chick-fil-A Sales Could Outpace McDonald's in the Next Decade [Chicago Tribune]
· Chick-fil-A a Serious and Growing Competitive Threat [Janney Capital Markets]
· All Chick-fil-A Coverage on Eater [-E-]