Wendy's reveals menu, marketing and remodeling moves

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The Wendy’s Co. estimated that North American same-store sales would rebound to a 3-percent increase in the second quarter

The Wendy’s Co. estimated that North American same-store sales would rebound to a 3-percent increase in the second quarter, and brand officials shared a full slate of menu, marketing and remodeling moves for the back half of 2012 aimed at accelerating sales and earnings growth.

While hosting securities analysts to a second Investor Day conference in its Dublin, Ohio, headquarters, Wendy’s officials said the brand was back on track to hitting targets in 2012 of 2-percent to 3-percent same-store sales growth and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $320 million to $335 million.

The expected 3-percent gain in second-quarter same-store sales is a marked acceleration from the 0.8-percent increase from the first quarter, when an unfavorable sales mix resulting from the $2.99 W cheeseburger and higher-than-expected commodity inflation pressured sales and margins.

Executives from the chain of more than 6,500 restaurants in the United States and 27 foreign markets offered the following look ahead to what is in store for the second half of 2012.

Menu pipeline remains robust

Chief marketing officer Craig Bahner said Wendy’s would keep up its prolific output of new menu items but would aim for more consistent and reliable results.

“We’ve had some wins in our product pipeline in recent years and some not-so-wins,” Bahner said. “We need to be much more consistent with the product pipeline and how we bring innovation to market.”

He said future products for Wendy’s would have to be “compelling, distinctive and ownable.” The brand’s culinary team came forward with several menu items in test or soon to be tested, and much of the innovation centered on new applications of bread and buns.

Wendy’s has begun testing Grilled Chicken Flatbread Sandwiches, including a banh mi version and a Hawaiian teriyaki version. In addition, the chain said it would make a Pub Club sandwich on a pretzel roll.

The Black Label burger line, also in test, includes a cheddar-jalapeno bun for a Spicy Santa Fe sandwich. Other premium ingredients for the Black Label burgers include Portobello mushrooms, Muenster cheese, guacamole, habanero-Jack cheese and cilantro-lime dressing.

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