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Can Chick-fil-A Conquer McDonald's In The Fast-Food Kingdom?

Now that Chick-fil-A has quietly started outselling Kentucky Fried Chicken, market analysts are starting to wonder if McDonald's should be worried.
Posted at 10:47 AM, Jul 17, 2014

Chick-fil A has been in the news lately for health care, but while the ruckus was going on surrounding it, the privately held fast food company has been growing. (Via m01229 / CC BY 2.0​, Robert Du Bois / CC BY NC SA 2.0)

A new report by Janney Capital Markets calls Chick-fil A's growth "legendary," noting:

"Back in 1999, the category leader was ... KFC, with 39.7% share. ... Chick-fil-A's market share was 8.7% ... Fast-forward to the year 2013. ... Chick-fil-A is the clear category leader with 26.3% share, several percentage points more than KFC's 21.9%."

And Chick-fil A did it all with fewer stores and fewer hours. But does this mean the anti-cow restaurant can grow even more from here?

​Media outlets seem to think it's possible — spotlighting the idea that Chick-fil-A could outpace McDonald's. (Via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chicago Tribune, The Huffington Post, The Christian Science Monitor)

Yes, the golden arches are looking a little dull in this light. (Via Getty Images)

But not so fast. An analyst on The Wall Street Journal disagrees, saying Ronald McDonald and gang are safe. 

"It's not going to overtake McDonald's, obviously. McDonald's is massive. It's doing six to seven times more sales than Chick-fil-A. It's a much bigger business. What they say it could do is take a lot of growth from McDonald's."

Time explains some projected growth: ​"McDonald's is projected to add between $1 and $10.3 billion to its U.S. sales between 2014 and 2023, while Chick-fil-A is projected to add between $6.3 and $9.0 billion, indicating that Chick-fil-A is nowhere near done growing, especially as it expands northward to compete with McDonald's stores."

And of course the big question: How is Chick-fil A doing so well? Well, the company is privately owned, so competitors can't pick apart its income, preventing much insight into how it's been growing so solidly. 

But Chick-fil-A has made headlines for its high customer satisfaction scores. (Via QSR)

And for clever promos like its recent Cow Appreciation Day. (Via Forbes)

Chick-fil-A will open more than 100 new restaurants this year.