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Bojangles' could be careening toward disaster after an aggressive expansion push — and a trip to the chain reveals why

Business Insider Logo By Hollis Johnson and Kate Taylor of Business Insider | Slide 1 of 18: North Carolina-based chicken chain Bojangles' is having growing pains after a recent expansion push. The company recently reported negative sales growth, and its CEO stepped down for personal reasons. We visited the chicken chain, and we think the road to recovery is possible - but it'll take some work.  Regional cult-favorite Bojangles' plans to expand across America are apparently hitting some bumps along the way.  Last week, after a lackluster fourth-quarter earnings report, the company's stock went on a wild roller coaster ride, plummeting before rallying to its highest price this year. The chain's system-wide sales were down from the previous quarter, and year-over-year sales decreased more than 2%,  according to QSR Magazine.  Plus, in a seemingly unrelated move, the company's CEO, Clifton Rutledge,  stepped down for personal reasons on March 5.  While Bojangles' has some plans for a turnaround - including strategic closings, a new loyalty and payment app, lower prices, and plans to continue remodeling stores in a more modern format - when we visited the chain during a trip to Virginia last year, we found that the chain had a long road ahead of it.  Bojangles' has been making a major expansion push since its 2015 IPO. As a North Carolinian, Business Insider's Kate Taylor swore she had eaten higher-quality Bojangles' in the past. Perhaps Bojangles' expansion is actually the root of its problems - not the potential sales boost that the chain had hoped for. It may enjoy fanatical devotion in its home base of North Carolina, but for the chain to make it outside of the Carolinas, some changes need to happen. Here's how our taste test in Charlottesville, Virginia, went:

Regional cult-favorite Bojangles' plans to expand across America are apparently hitting some bumps along the way. 

Last week, after a lackluster fourth-quarter earnings report, the company's stock went on a wild roller coaster ride, plummeting before rallying to its highest price this year. The chain's system-wide sales were down from the previous quarter, and year-over-year sales decreased more than 2%, according to QSR Magazine.

Plus, in a seemingly unrelated move, the company's CEO, Clifton Rutledge, stepped down for personal reasons on March 5.

While Bojangles' has some plans for a turnaround — including strategic closings, a new loyalty and payment app, lower prices and plans to continue remodeling stores in a more modern format — when we visited the chain during a trip to Virginia last year, we found that the chain had a long road ahead of it. 

Bojangles' has been making a major expansion push since its 2015 IPO. As a North Carolinian, Business Insider's Kate Taylor swore she had eaten higher-quality Bojangles' in the past. Perhaps Bojangles' expansion is actually the root of its problems — not the potential sales boost that the chain had hoped for.

It may enjoy fanatical devotion in its home base of North Carolina, but for the chain to make it outside of the Carolinas, some changes need to happen.

Click ahead to see how our taste test in Charlottesville, Virginia, went.

© Hollis Johnson
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