A&W Restaurants’ momentum continued in 2019—its centennial year—with a 2.7 percent jump in same-store sales, making it the eighth straight year of growth. Average unit volumes also grew again and are now up by more than 38 percent since 2011, when the chain’s franchisees acquired it from YUM! Brands. A&W also continued to add locations. It has opened more than 70 in the U.S. since 2011. Nine have been added in the last 14 months, with several among the chain’s top performers for first year sales. All are single-brand units that serve Root Beer made fresh on-site along with A&W’s signature All-American Food favorites. Its newest restaurants are in Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico and West Virginia.
According to CEO Kevin Bazner, one of the factors driving A&W’s success is its strategy to develop single-brand restaurants. Under previous ownership groups, many locations were co-branded with A&Ws and other quick-service concepts. “We have franchise partners who continue to operate successful co-branded restaurants, and we are continuing to provide support for those restaurants,” he says. “However, we now are only building single-brand A&Ws. The results show we are on the right path.” Along with building freestanding and inline restaurants with drive-thrus, A&W will continue to develop convenience store and travel center locations.
“Our total unit count is declining, but the number of stand-alone A&Ws has stabilized and, in fact, is growing. Our system is much stronger. Our franchisees are more profitable and we have a healthy pipeline of new restaurants in place,” Bazner adds. He noted that the brand expects to open 15 locations this year.
A&W’s dramatic growth in Asia also is continuing. Its Malaysian franchisee recently announced plans to open 20 restaurants this year. There are currently 374 A&Ws in Southeast Asia. To support its growth, A&W recently opened an all-new prototype and learning center near its Lexington, Kentucky, support center, which recently was expanded.
A&W was founded in Lodi, California, in 1919. Today there are more than 900 restaurants worldwide, with approximately 570 in the U.S