Industry News | February 2, 2012

Chipotle Plans Biggest Growth Yet in 2012

Chipotle Mexican Grill executives sounded an optimistic note for the coming year during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call, despite an anticipated double-digit rise in costs for the company's naturally cultivated commodities.

Montgomery Moran, co-CEO of Chipotle, said the company expects to open 155–165 new Chipotle locations in 2012.

"While this is more restaurants than we've ever opened in a single year, we are confident," Moran said, citing the "quality of what's in the real estate pipeline."

Chipotle is also in the early stages of implementing a new recruitment strategy, Moran said, and will soon roll out a new software system "that provides better analytics to help us target the very best applicants possible." The company's recruitment efforts will target college campuses, and Chipotle will relaunch an employee referral bonus program, he said.

John Hartung, Chipotle's chief financial officer, said the company had achieved a sixth consecutive quarter of double-digit increases in comparable store sales in the fourth quarter. Average restaurant sales passed the $2 million mark for the first time, which Hartung said was due to increased store traffic. Sixty-seven new restaurants opened in the fourth quarter, he said.

Steve Ells, founder of the concept, told investors that the “Food with Integrity” quick serve will open a second ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen location in 2012.

"While our primary focus is building the Chipotle brand in the U.S., we're making small investments now in what we believe will become potential growth opportunities in the future," Ells told investors. "Chipotle's success has never really been about serving burritos and tacos.”

One potential setback for 2012 will be commodity costs, executives said.

"We're cautiously optimistic we'll see more reasonable prices in 2012 for avocados, dairy, and produce," Hartung said, noting that the company recently shifted its avocado purchases to Mexico and Chile from California.

Hartung warned investors that any price reductions in produce would likely be offset by higher costs for beef, chicken, rice, and beans.

"Beef costs will be especially challenging, due to protracted supply shortages despite recent reductions in grain prices," he said.

By Jan Fletcher

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by QSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.


Is it possible for a government foodservice facility to have a Chipotle? We have a large foodservice operation that is managed by Sodexo with annual food sales of 6,000,000 per year. our clientele would love to have a Chipotle restaurant in the building. Please contact me by email if your are interested in expanding Chipotle in to an untap market for lunch. Many of our worker have thirty to forty-five minutes for lunch making it possible to leave the building. Our Subway and Dunkin Donuts has take off and their avarage sales are between 45K to 55K per month and climbing. I can also be reached by phone at 571-557-9504

Chipotle is one of the very few restaurants and only fast food restaurant I go to. The main reason is the quality of food.I am interested in where I can expect to find new Chipotle locations in 2012. I would love to see one closer to the University of California in San Francisco (Parnassus St on campus or 9th Avenue/Irving). Also, I would love to hear of one opening in Reno, Nevada.Thank you!

All I know is that in the state of Texas they treat their middle management with little or no respect. I have known sveral managers and all said that they were relieved to get away from the Chipolte company. They felt they were disrespected and lied to, but how do you fight big business. Just beware this is not a place to work if your middle management.

Chipotle is a great place to get a vegan meal at a reasonable price. I get the burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans, veggies, mild salsa, corn salsa, guacamole, and lettuce ... yummy.

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