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Chick-fil-A continues positive sales trend

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

A slumping U.S. economy has reportedly not affected business at one of the country's most successful restaurant chains, as the Atlanta-based company continues to post record sales numbers.

Chick-fil-A, the country's second-largest chicken restaurant chain, is reporting that its system-wide sales in 2008 reached more than $2.96 billion, representing a 12.17 percent increase over the company's 2007 totals.

According to a written statement issued by the company Jan. 29, the achievement marks the 41st consecutive year of sales gains, and the 16th straight year of double-digit sales growth for the company.

Jerry Johnston, senior manager of public relations for Chick-fil-A, said a "combination of factors" contributed to the company's recent success. He cited new offerings, such as Chargrilled Chicken, and Fruit Salad, as well as improvements on existing menu items, such as the Chicken Strips and Chicken Salad Sandwich, as contributors to the recent upswing in business.

However, he asserted that much of Chick-fil-A's success is due to the people who work in each of the restaurant's locations.

"We have operators who take care of their customers," said Johnston. "We stay committed to the qualities that help us to build our brand - exceptional service and the quality of our product."

Chick-fil-A, which opened 83 new locations in 2007, reportedly experienced a 4.59 percent increase in same-store sales last year.

Johnston acknowledged the "challenging" nature of economic conditions in the nation, and the effect those conditions have had on the retail industry. Still, he said that adhering to the core principles established by Chick-fil-A Founder Truett Cathy has enabled the company to be profitable.

According to Johnston, another notable component of the company's good fortune stems from a deep commitment of faith held by the man who started it all.

"Truett Cathy believes God has truly blessed our business," said Johnston. "He has always had a belief that you could apply biblical principles in the workplace and be successful. The year 2008 was a reflection of that philosophy."

Cathy expounded on his outlook connecting faith and business during an earlier interview with the Henry Daily Herald.

"I see no conflict between biblical principles and good business practice, because they work," said Cathy.

The 87-year-old entrepreneur is currently recovering from gall-bladder surgery. However, as recently as last year, he showed no signs of slowing down after more than 50 years in the restaurant business.

"I'm only 87, so I've got a lot of years ahead of me," said Cathy.