Over the past year, Darden has been implementing far-reaching improvements for all elements of the Olive Garden business to reignite traffic growth and support margin expansion.
Key initiatives have included enhancing culinary operations and service, introducing a core menu innovation, pursuing a new approach to advertising and promotions, and launching a re-imaging program.
The Olive Garden Brand Renaissance is beginning to deliver positive results and reinforces the Company's confidence in the brand's ongoing development.
- Guest experience and satisfaction scores are improving across the system, including Overall, Attentiveness, Pace of Meal, and Food Taste, as a result of an intensified focus on service and food quality. Darden expects these to translate into higher traffic trends over time.
- Online ordering, including a redesigned web experience and the national launch of an online To-Go platform, is underway and strengthening the take-out business. In the first quarter of fiscal 2015, Darden achieved a 13 percent increase in Olive Garden's take-out business compared to the first quarter last year. Notably, check averages from online orders are significantly higher than those placed on the phone, which represents a margin growth driver should these trends continue.
- Testing of tablet technology in several restaurants is underway and has generated encouraging results, including check growth due to an increase in add-on sales, increased table turns, a 60 percent pay-at-the-table rate and increased guest survey response rates, as well as an increase in tip percentage for servers.
- Initial sales results from a pilot remodel program are encouraging. The company has completed three remodels that reflect significant interior and exterior changes. This has resulted in a more than 10 percent increase in traffic on average in the remodeled restaurants as guests respond to the changes.
News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by WTWH Media LLC.