Restaurant Chains Continue Growth In Q1


The restaurant industry continues to show rebound, with McDonald's, Chipotle Mexican Grill and The Cheesecake Factory reporting healthy first-quarter U.S. comparable-store sales growth, and multi-chain operator Yum Brands showing just 1% decline.

McDonald's reported a 9% increase in global sales and 4.2% comparable-store sales growth, including a 2.9% U.S. gain. U.S. growth-drivers were beverages, including the McCafe line, its new oatmeal, and featured products such as 20-piece Chicken McNuggets and a chipotle BBQ bacon Angus burger.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (all but three of its 1,095 restaurants are U.S.-based) saw total sales jump 24.3% and comparable-store sales increase 12.4%. Growth in comparable stores resulted mainly from higher traffic. The company also raised its forecast for same-store sales growth this year to the mid-single digits, from its February outlook for a percentage in the low single digits.



Chipotle's gains came on top of 14% U.S. sales growth in 2010, according to Technomic's annual report on the top 500 U.S. restaurant chains.

The Cheesecake Factory's total sales rose 3.3%. Comparable sales increased 1.6% overall, with its 150 U.S. Cheesecake Factory restaurants up 2.1%, and its 13 Grand Lux Café restaurants down 3.8%.

BJ's Restaurants (104 U.S. restaurants) saw total sales increase 19%, and comparable sales increase 7.8%.

Yum Brands' worldwide sales grew 5%, and its same-store sales in China grew 13%. U.S. total sales were flat, and comparable-store sales dipped 1%.

Last year, the top 500 U.S. chains realized 1.8% growth, according to Technomics. System-wide sales for these chains rose to an estimated $234 billion, up more than $4 billion over 2009.

More than 50% of the top 500 chains posted at least nominal sales increases. Just 231 saw sales declines, compared to 283 in 2009.

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