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Burger King to stay open late nationally

Burger King to stay open late nationally

MIAMI (AP) – Burger King Corp. said Tuesday thousands of its restaurants in the United States and Canada will now be open until midnight or later every day, allowing it to challenge competitors McDonald’s and Wendy’s.

In May, about 60 percent of Burger King’s U.S. and Canadian restaurants were opening until midnight or later. But Tuesday’s national rollout allows the world’s second-largest hamburger chain to mount a full-fledged ad campaign touting the change.

The idea will be featured in a new advertising campaign featuring hip-hop music mogul Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs.

Burger King competes with No. 1 chain McDonald’s Corp., which offers 24-hour drivethrus at some restaurants, and No. 3 chain Wendy’s International Inc., which implemented extended hours years ago.

Extended hours apply to about 7,500 Burger King restaurants, but stores that can’t control their own hours — those in mall food courts, airports or universities, for example — may be exempted, Burger King spokesman Keva Silversmith said.

‘We are responding to demand by offering our customers the option to fuel up with their favorite Burger King menu items when they need us most,’ said Russ Klein, president of global marketing, strategy and innovation for Burger King.

Burger King has the potential to increase sales in stores open at least a year by up to 1 percent with the later hours, said Joseph Buckley, an analyst with Bear Stearns.

‘There is a definite opportunity for them there because Wendy’s and McDonald’s and others have been in the extended hours for really some time,’ Buckley said.

However, later hours could also mean more labor and utility costs.

The new television ad featuring Diddy began airing nationwide June 1. The campaign also includes new designs by Sean John, Diddy’s clothing label, and a paint scheme that will adorn the Burger King car during an upcoming NASCAR race.

Burger King operates more than 11,200 restaurants in the United States and abroad. About 90 percent are owned and operated by franchisees.

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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