East Coast Wings + Grill experienced high-performing returns across several unit-level categories over the last calendar year, according to the casual-dining franchise’s 2018 economic report released Wednesday.
The findings strengthen the brand’s strategic, data-driven approach and will serve as fuel for its growth plans in 2019. Additionally, as brands across casual dining face growth challenges like higher labor costs and developing organic leads, ECW+G is confident its continued focus on nurturing healthy and sustainable unit-level economics (ULE) will allow the brand to maneuver through these industry impediments.
Here are some prominent year-over-year figures ECW+G reported in 2018:
- Owner operated unit-level average EBITDA increased 248 basis points to 17.32 percent
- Same-store sales rose 2.1 percent
- Foot traffic increased five percent
- Five new restaurants opened in 2018
- The 2017 initiative of reengineering the ECW+G model—dubbed ‘ECW 2.0’—to address maximum unit-level output in dining experience, development expense and ULE continues to be validated:
- The brand’s new ‘2.0’ model achieved a reduction of approximately 30 percent in development cost and 27 percent in square footage while sustaining unit-level sales of the once larger footprint
- Existing locations converted to the ‘2.0’ model posted an average increase of 12.5 percent in gross sales
Seven weeks into 2019, ECW+G is off to a promising start. The big game sales on February 3 were up 19 percent over 2018, while same-store sales in January climbed seven percent year-over-year. Ballas is even investigating some opportunities for acquisitions, among brands with equal or smaller units to ECW+G, to accelerate non-organic growth moving forward.
“Our 2018 report reinforces the heavy emphasis ECW+G puts on unit-level economics, which is a brand absolute. Moving forward, we’re uniquely positioned because we continue to adhere to our data-driven philosophy,” says ECW+G president and CEO Sam Ballas. “We’re already on par with new-unit growth, and we anticipate a 15 percent system increase this year.”
Ballas continues, “Early in 2018, we recognized the changes of the casual-dining model and labor models. Thus, taking the necessary steps, including cutting back our larger development goals to assure the disciplines of ULE, we drive sustainability. We have a great team and network of franchisees behind our brand, and achieving our goals is possible through smart, sustainable growth practices and brand discipline with our unit-level DNA.”
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