Industry News | May 11, 2017 | By Danny Klein | QSR Exclusive Brief

Amid Sales Declines, Pie Five Closes 18 Restaurants

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In light of a nearly 16 percent drop in comparable-store sales in the third quarter, Rave Restaurant Group shuttered 18 Pie Five locations, the company announced Wednesday. Nine franchised and nine company-owned restaurants closed, while five franchises opened, leaving the fast casual pizza chain with 86 total units.

"We are taking a purposeful approach to improving the overall financial performance of the company by withdrawing from underperforming markets," says Scott Crane, chief executive officer for Rave Restaurant Group, Inc., in a statement. "In addition, we will be introducing new initiatives that will add occasions and increased incidence."

In March, Rave announced that it closed seven Pie Five locations in the Chicago area and two in Minnesota.

Rave hired Scott Crane, formerly of Smashburger, in January to help jumpstart the once thriving operation. Pie Five’s sales in 2015 boosted 151 percent as unit counts grew 165 percent in the previous year. At that time, Pie five had 82 stores and plans for accelerated growth, even to as many as 450 additional franchised units. But the pizza category’s saturation and the widespread struggles of the industry have stymied that plan. Pie Five operated 99 locations at the end of 2016.

“We continue to see opportunities for traditional and non-traditional development," Crane said of Pie Five in a release. "Our throughput makes Pie Five a great option for airports. We just opened our second airport location at BWI Airport."

Average weekly sales declined 12.3 percent at Pie Five, year-over-year, in the quarter. Rave’s Pizza Inn concept performed better, growing comparable-store sales 0.1 percent domestically from the same period of the prior year. Total sales were up 2.9 percent.

The company reported a net loss of $2 million, which was $0.7 million more than the third quarter 2016. “After a year of challenging sales performance, we are evaluating various elements of the concept from both a service and product standpoint that we believe will ultimately better service the wants of our customers," Crane said in a release.