Ignite Restaurant Group reported mixed financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended December 30, 2013. Total revenues were $760.8 million, including $261.7 million associated with Romano's Macaroni Grill, acquired April 2013.
Ignite’s legacy brands, Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern, saw an increase in sales. Macaroni Grill continues to drag down the group’s overall revenues, although there has been some improvement, said company management.
On a comparable 52-week basis, system-wide restaurant sales increased 1.0 percent at Joe’s Crab Shack and climbed 5.3 percent at Brick House Tavern + Tap. Comparable sales dropped 6.5 percent at Macaroni Grill.
A total of 14 new restaurants opened during 2013 and nine locations closed, three of which were converted to Brick Houses. Seven of those closed were Macaroni Grill units, and two were Joe’s Crab Shack units.
Beginning with the first quarter of fiscal 2013, Ignite adjusted its quarterly reporting calendar to four 13-week operating periods. Previously, the first three quarters of the company’s fiscal year consisted of 12 weeks each and the fourth quarter consisted of 16 weeks. As a result, financial results for the 13-week quarter ended December 30, 2013 are not necessarily directly comparable to those of the corresponding 16-week quarter ended December 31, 2012.
In fourth-quarter 2013, on a comparable 13-week basis, system-wide comparable restaurant sales increased 1.9 percent at Joe’s Crab Shack and increased 6.6 percent at Brick House Tavern + Tap. Comparable sales decreased 9.0 percent at Macaroni Grill. Total revenues were $186.9 million, including $88.3 million associated with Macaroni Grill.
Sales at Joe’s increased $6.2 million to $83.6 million, versus $77.4 million in the comparable period the prior year, driven by restaurant sales and additional operating weeks from new store openings. At Brick House, revenues increased $3.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2013 from the comparable period a year ago, increasing from 11.5 million to $15 million, fueled by the increase in sales and the addition of five new locations.
“Our Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap brands continue to perform well in a challenging environment, reflecting our focus on delivering unique, innovative menu items to our guests in an exciting, comfortable atmosphere,” comments Ray Blanchette, CEO of Ignite Restaurant Group.
The company delivered six straight years of annual comparable sales growth at Joe’s and eight straight quarters of comparable sales growth at Brick House.
“As we finish our first fiscal year with Macaroni Grill and the Ignite Restaurant portfolio, I believe we’ve positioned this brand for revenue and margin growth,” says Blanchette. “In the fourth quarter, Romano’s Macaroni Grill comp sales came in at negative 9 percent. While this is not exciting, we continue to make progress with our margin management at these lower sales volumes.”
Blanchette noted that under Macaroni Grill’s president David Catalano’s stewardship, Ignite has “strengthened our restaurant leadership, improved our unit level margin management, and prepared the concept for the next level of growth.”