Year-over-year same-store sales climb for A+W

A+W CEO Paul Hollands, shown here at right during the chain’s Cruisin’ to End MS promotion in August, said the chain’s “better ingredients” campaign is still having a “powerful impact” on consumers. (CNW Group/A+W Food Services of Canada)

Canadian burger-and-root beer chain A+W’s recent moves to boost the profile of its ingredients in a crowded quick-service playing field has pushed its sales past the billion-dollar mark in 2015.

The A+W Revenue Royalties Income Fund on Friday reported net income of $21.32 million on $1.061 billion in reported sales from the 814 restaurants in its royalty pool for fiscal 2015, up from $16.99 million on $957.19 million from 790 stores in 2014.

Cracking the $1 billion mark in sales in 2015 was an “important milestone” for the business, the company said in a release.

“Our strategic initiatives aimed at growing market share in the quick-service restaurant burger market continue to be extremely successful,” Paul Hollands, CEO for A+W Food Services, said. “Our relentless focus on bringing better ingredients to our guests is having a powerful impact.”

The chain since 2013 has shifted its supply lines to beef “raised without the use of hormones or steroids,” eggs from hens “fed only a vegetarian diet without animal byproducts,” chicken “raised without the use of antibiotics” and organic and Fair Trade coffee.

The company’s growth strategy has also involved accelerating new restaurant openings, with 32 during 2015, down from 37 in 2014.

The chain’s same-store sales growth — considered a better bellwether of progress for multi-store restaurant chains, compared to overall sales — came in at 7.6 per cent for the year, up from 6.3 per cent in 2014, and at 5.3 per cent for the last 16 weeks of 2015, down from 7.9 per cent in the year-earlier period.

The Vancouver-based income fund also boosted its monthly cash distributions twice in 2015, from 11.7 cents per unit to 12.1 cents effective in July, and to 12.5 cents effective in October. The October increaase puts the fund’s annualized distribution rate at $1.50 per unit, up from $1.404 per unit at the end of 2014. — Network

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