A+W books further sales growth, shifts bacon sourcing

Canadian burger and root beer chain A+W has logged a 12th straight quarter of same-store sales growth, this time following a shift in pork sourcing for its bacon supply.

The Vancouver-based income fund on Tuesday reported gross sales of $243.8 million among the 838 restaurants in its royalty pool for its first quarter ending March 27, up from $202.4 million from 814 restaurants in the year-earlier quarter ending March 22, 2015.

The fund booked net income of $3.33 million for the quarter, up from $2.03 million in the year-earlier period, and on Wednesday announced a four per cent increase in monthly cash distributions to 13 cents per unit, up from 12.5.

Same-store sales growth, a better benchmark than overall sales for expanding restaurant chains, rose 8.6 per cent in the quarter, compared to 9.1 per cent in the year-earlier period.

“We are very pleased to report that our strong trend of positive same store sales growth dating back to 2013 has continued into 2016”, A+W Food Services CEO Paul Hollands said in the company’s release.

That year, he said, lines up with the year A+W “became an industry leader for natural ingredients by responding to Canadians’ interest and desire for more natural foods.”

The chain since 2013 has begun marketing its beef as raised without the use of hormones and steroids, its eggs as coming from hens fed only a diet without animal byproducts, and its chicken meat as coming from birds raised without the use of antibiotics.

During the quarter ending March 27, the chain began marketing its bacon as coming from hogs raised without the use of antibiotics.

The company said Tuesday its move marks “another first for A+W, making it the only quick-service restaurant (QSR) in North America to serve pork raised this way.”

While the company drew some social media fire from its September 2013 beef announcement, after shifting some of its beef sourcing to U.S. and Australian suppliers, it promotes its bacon as coming from pork “farmed locally in Canada.”

Just after the quarter ended, A+W also announced itself as the first national restaurant chain to serve French’s tomato ketchup and French’s Classic yellow mustard in all of its restaurants across Canada.

New Jersey-based French’s in recent months began promoting its ketchup and mustard products in the Canadian market as made strictly with Canadian tomatoes and mustard seed.

The French’s condiments, A+W said, are also “made without preservatives or artificial flavours and colours.”

“The tomato farmers in Leamington (Ontario) and mustard seed farmers in Saskatchewan work hard to produce the best quality ingredients for French’s, and we are proud to add these locally-sourced products to the menu at all of our Canadian restaurants,” A+W food services chief operating officer Susan Senecal said in a release March 29. — AGCanada.com Network

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