Hundreds of influential industry operators and foodservice suppliers were in attendance during Technomic’s session on “Winners and Spinners,” presented by industry icon and Technomic President, Ron Paul and Executive Vice President Darren Tristano at the annual Restaurant Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.
This year’s event theme “Winning in a Changed World” looks toward a future where the industry faces greater uncertainty, including less loyal consumers who’ve been hit hard by the recent recession and current economic climate. In spite of the challenges, Technomic still identifies leading chains that have performed successfully and demonstrated unit and sales growth during recent years.
These success stories include mature chains like McDonalds, Longhorn Steakhouse and Chick-fil-A as well as up-and-comers like Chipotle, Firehouse Subs and Cantina Laredo. As Ron Paul pointed out, “unit growth during this climate has been a good indicator of stronger unit economics.”
Recent Technomic Top 500 results include insights on consumer shifts toward fast casual restaurants. The fastest growing chains in 2011 were led by Five Guys Burgers and Fries (in the limited-service category) and Yard House (among full-service restaurants). The Technomic session looked at why winners win and why spinners spin with Tristano pointing out several reasons for chain growth stall-out:
- Concept fatigue is taking its toll on consumers who are turning to more contemporary restaurants
- New competitors in each segment are putting greater pressure on more established brands
- Chains with narrowly focused customer demographics can suffer from customer base issues
- Several larger chains are focusing on international expansion with less effort spent domestically
- Weak or deteriorating economic models are generating weaker results
- Under-capitalized brands or those with weak cash flow can’t invest more aggressively at the unit level
The session gave operators a roadmap for evaluating their concept and several ideas on future strategic focus.
All Restaurant Leadership Conference attendees and Technomic Digital Resource Library subscribers will receive slides from the presentation.