RRupdates

                                           

Tuesday
Oct102017

Unit Economics

  • RR’s Industry Data Report on Unit Economics provides: (1) FYE 2016 unit level AUV along with COGS, labor, royalty, advertising, other operating and EBITDAR margin estimates for 46 chains; (2) a 5-year history of unit economic performance; (3) an analysis of food and labor cost drivers; and (4) aggregate G&A margins, rent margins and leverage ratios based on RR’s annual lender survey. 
  • Report highlights: (1) Average 2016 EBITDAR margin for the $1B+ chains declined -40 bps as lower COGs were more than off-set by an AUV decline and higher labor & operating costs; (2) flat G&A and higher rent expense based on our lender survey suggests 2016 EBITDA (post G&A) also contracted; (3) franchisee leverage levels decreased and coverage ratios remain solid with lenders reporting minimal delinquencies; and (4) the outlook for 2017 EBITDAR margins is negative as a result of tepid sales growth, escalating labor costs and rising commodity prices.

Tuesday
Oct102017

Carl's Jr.

Carl's Jr. is a well established West Coast QSR better burger chain that has integrated into a single national system with sister brand Hardee's under 2 regional banners. The brand's value equation relates to its: premium charbroiled burgers (with over-sized patties & unique Black Angus options) that are competitive with “better burger” brands, but offered at more affordable prices; almost ¼ lbs. non-Angus beef patty platform which provides attractive mid-tier pricing options; and new $5 All Star Meal box which fills the need for an every day value platform. However, comp performance reflects the challenges of a premium QSR positioning aggravated by necessary price increases to cover significant West Coast wage inflation and rent costs in a very competitive, price sensitive market. Fortunately, a new CMO goes with a new marketing strategy which moves past bikinis towards new food focused messaging. Also, the menu benefits from clean food initiatives that better resonates with Millennials who seek authenticity, "better burger" customers and even "young, hungry guys" who are more interested in quality. The system is further strengthened by a new remodel program that is being adjusted to reallocate more spend on the exterior (a better alignment with its high off-premise sales mix). Conversely, store-level margins are pressured by: high ad spend requirements (necessitated by the relatively small scale of both brands together); rising minimum wage requirements; and an increasingly difficult regulatory environment. Also, the system is challenged to find national promotions that work for both Carl's Jr. and Hardee's given: Hardee's large breakfast daypart mix (particularly in the Southeast); significantly different demos; and Carl's Jr.'s substantially higher cost structure on the West Coast. In conclusion, we are eager to see how CKE's new management team will sufficiently leverage the chain's considerable brand equity built upon quality burgers and biscuits in order to boost Carl Jr.'s top-line sufficiently to overcome the elevated costs (wage, regulatory & occupancy) in its core West Coast markets.


Tuesday
Oct102017

Hardee's

Today's Hardee's offers a higher-end QSR experience which includes: made-from-scratch breakfast biscuits; made-to-order charbroiled burgers; hand-breaded chicken tenders; and hand-scooped shakes. Hardee's is unique because of its 45% breakfast mix which reflects the tremendous popularity of its made-from-scratch biscuits among an older demo in its core Southern and Midwest markets and the system has managed to integrate sister brand Carl's Jr.'s strength in burgers in order to expand its relevancy and sales without detracting from its core breakfast business. While the brand does not make a practice of promoting core low margin products to drive the top-line, its new $5 All Star box deal finally provides the brand with a necessary everyday value platform. Fortunately, a new CMO goes with a new marketing strategy which moves past bikinis towards food focused messaging. Also, clean food initiatives should better resonate with Millennials who seek authenticity, "better burger" customers and even "young, hungry guys" who are more interested in quality. We also appreciate efforts to adjust the remodel program to reallocate more spend on the exterior (a better alignment with its high off-premise sales mix). However, the system continues to be challenged to find national promotions that work for both Hardee's and Carl's Jr. given: Hardee's large breakfast daypart mix (particularly in the Southeast); significantly different demos; and Carl's Jr.'s substantially higher cost structure on the West Coast. In conclusion, we are eager to see how CKE's new management team will reinvigorate Hardee's comp performance by fully leveraging the chain's considerable brand equity built upon quality biscuits & burgers.