Growth Drives Sales At Smashburger

Better-burger segment player Smashburger Wednesday said it grew its restaurant base by 55 percent and entered 12 new markets in 2011 to end the year with 143 locations.

The Denver-based chain, which is owned by Consumer Capital Partners, said its 51 new restaurants and a 3-percent increase in same-store sales at existing locations pushed annual systemwide sales to $115.7 million.

"In 2012, our growth plan is to add 50 to 70 new restaurants in new and existing markets, including 15 to 20 new corporate stores, and capitalize on the momentum we have gained over the past four years," Dave Prokupek, Smashburger chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

The chain's ability to grow in a "challenging consumer environment" was a "testament to the quality of our food, the strength of our brand and the loyalty of our guests," Prokupek said.

Compared with larger better-burger rivals like Five Guys and In-N-Out, Smashburger features a broader menu that in addition to its signature Angus beef burgers includes chicken sandwiches, black bean veggie burgers, salads and sweet potato fries.

It also is known for offering regional specialty products and local beer varieties along with premium ice cream shakes and soft drinks.

Smashburger has grown more slowly than Five Guys, which has rocketed to more than 900 units in recent years. But Prokupek said his chain "sees continued growth opportunity in the 'better burger' marketplace as consumers continue to seek great tasting food that is available fast and at a competitive price point."

The mostly franchised chain announced its first international expansion program in 2011, with units expected to open in the Middle East, Canada and Latin America in 2012.

It said it is looking for franchisees to help fill out markets where it has company operations, including Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles and Minneapolis, as well as enter new markets such as San Francisco, Boston and Washington, D.C., Western Europe, South America and Asia.

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