Chili’s parent Brinker International reported same-store sales Thursday that dropped as much as nearly 10 percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with a significant leap in off-premises business.
Through March 8, company-owned units saw a 2.9-percent increase in comp sales year-over-year. Individually, Chili’s saw a 3.3-percent uptick and Maggiano’s grew 0.6 percent. But by the end of Q3, company-owned stores dropped 5.9 percent. Chili’s slid 5.3 percent and Maggiano’s plummeted 9.9 percent.
With government-mandated closures of dining rooms forcing a takeout/delivery approach, off-premises sales more than doubled year-over-year and are capturing 30 to 35 percent of last year’s sales. Delivery is nearing 20 percent of sales and online ordering accounted for 69 percent of off-premises orders in Q3. Despite the low comp numbers, Brinker claims recent data shows that its same-store sales “gapped the industry” by more than 10 percent.
Almost all restaurants are open for takeout and delivery, with fewer than 10 units closed.
The company anticipates spending fewer than $10 million per week. As of March 31, the brand had $137 million in cash and $237 in total liquidity. Brinker also amended its credit facility to boost its borrowing capacity to $800 million.
To increase financial flexibility, Brinker reduced the salaries of its executive team, including a 50-percent cut by CEO Wyman Roberts. Capital expenditures have been suspended, such as Chili’s re-image program and construction on new restaurants. Marketing spend, general and administrative spend, and other expenses have been reduced to support the off-premises platform. Brinker withdrew its financial guidance and suspended its quarterly cash dividend.
Brinker noted that it will continue to seek financial alternatives, including resources under the federal stimulus package, or the CARES Act. The package provides $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses. Companies with 500 or fewer employees qualify. Since the provision is based on the amount of employees at one location, not overall, franchisees and corporate stores of major chains are eligible.
“I’m proud of our restaurant operators and support teams who quickly adapted our business to a safe and efficient off-premise only model. Our focus remains delivering quality food to our guests and maintaining a safe work environment for our team members,” Roberts said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to those impacted by the pandemic, including our team members. In response, we’ve provided them support through an emergency relief fund.”