COLUMBUS (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST) — Wendy’s expects its breakfast and digital sales momentum to help it to a big 2021 and beyond.
The Dublin-based restaurant company Wednesday reported its fourth-quarter and year-end results, which included a 2% rise in sales to $11.3 billion for the year for the overall chain and a 1.5% increase in revenue for the company to $1.7 billion.
Same-restaurant sales were up 3.7% worldwide and 4.8% in the U.S.
Full results can be found here.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” CEO Todd Penegor said on a Wednesday morning conference call with stock analysts.
Other measures of note:
- Penegor said Wendy’s had the second largest share of visits of any quick-service burger chain in 2020, citing data from market researcher NPD Group. Though the CEO did not mention the competition by name, it means Wendy’s has passed rival Burger King, though it still trails McDonald’s.
- The chain has posted 10 consecutive years of U.S. sales growth.
- Wendy’s also opened 150 restaurants last year and, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, ended the year with more than 6,800 units worldwide, a net gain of 44.
Two big drivers of Wendy’s success in 2020 were its addition of breakfast, which launched last March, and growth in its digital sales.
Breakfast had grown to 7% of sales in the fourth quarter, Penegor saidd. It’s projected to grow by 30% this year due both to greater awareness and the addition of sales in January and February, which didn’t happen in 2020.
The goal for breakfast is 10% of Wendy’s sales by the end of 2022.
The new offering has been a profitable menu expansion both for the company and its franchisees, Penegor said.
Digital sales through Wendy’s app more than doubled in 2020 and accounted for 6% of sales. That segment is projected to account for 10% of sales by the end of this year. Wendy’s is benefiting from the greater emphasis on carryout and touchless interaction created by Covid-19 that ordering through the app provides. It also launched a loyalty program last year that has grown to 3 million active users.
Wendy’s expects systemwide sales to grow between 6% and 8% this year.
Penegor said the company does not expect physical growth to slow either, with a goal of surpassing 7,000 restaurants this year and 8,000 by 2025.
What constitutes a restaurant is changing in some respects, though. The company is still adding traditional units, but it’s also considering drive-thru only locations and is launching several delivery-only ghost kitchen rollouts in markets like Toronto and India that, if successful, could accelerate that growth.
The company is adding a significant international market in 2021 as well with at least five restaurants in the United Kingdom. Another 10 are expected next year. Penegor said Wendy’s expects to own 20 restaurants in the United Kingdom while the rest of the market will be filled out by franchisees.
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