Fresh on the heels of a major rebranding launch, Cicis announced its 11th consecutive quarter of system-wide same-store sales (SSS) growth and its highest annual average unit volume (AUV) in at least two decades—breaking the $1 million threshold and the highest weekly AUVs in the chain’s history.
Cicis CEO Darin Harris pointed to a stronger relationship with franchisees, a focus on product quality improvement, a more thorough understanding of the brand’s core customers, and an enhanced marketing strategy as key contributors to the positive momentum the brand has achieved.
Over the past two years, Cicis same-store sales increased by 7.3 percent—the brand’s highest in memory. In 2015, annual comp store AUV increased to $1,005,000, and weekly AUV grew to $19,400, highlighted by nine weeks of record-breaking sales scattered throughout the year.
Cicis has 446 stores open and operating in 33 states, and has begun building new stores again. As part of its strategy, the company also acquired 19 franchise locations over the last year.
“The improvements we’ve made to our unlimited buffet—from the upgraded quality of our ingredients to the introduction of Stuffed Crust Pizza in July—have generated an overwhelmingly positive response from our guests,” Harris says. Stuffed Crust Pizza was Cicis largest new product rollout in years.
“We also know that our guests love the great value Cicis offers, along with the freedom to choose whatever flavors and combinations they like,” Harris adds.
Cicis positive momentum included the signing of 18 franchise agreements in the fourth quarter of 2015, representing 44 new restaurant commitments that will lead to the creation of more than 1,100 new jobs nationwide. Three new franchisees joined the Cicis family in 2015, and many existing franchisees have signed new agreements to build additional restaurants.
Among other highlights, Cicis opened two restaurants in heavy tourist markets, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and Branson, Montana, in 2015. The Branson restaurant is not only the largest in the chain, but it is on track to post the highest sales in the system. Cicis also opened two new corporate locations in Fort Worth, Texas, featuring contemporary designs that were tested as part of the development process for the company’s new restaurant prototype and brand identity. The first ground-up new-prototype Cicis will be officially unveiled in North Texas later this quarter.
“The new prototype contemporizes the brand. It includes the new logo and brand identity package representing our new brand positioning of ‘Feeding Individuality,’” says CMO Sarah McAloon. “It is both inspiring and distinctive to Cicis, with zones for individuals or families and groups, as well as an improved game room.”
Cicis also launched a new web site optimized for SEO, began employing digital media for the first time and introduced a new “My Cicis” mobile app that offers guests a free Adult Buffet after their fourth paid visit. The app was downloaded roughly 100,000 times in its first month alone, greatly exceeding initial projections.
“The fact is that our unlimited buffet model gives us the freedom to do things differently from our [quick-service] and CDR competitors, and we are maximizing that competitive differentiator,” Harris says. “Couple that with the introduction of the new prototype and our new brand logo and identity package and all the new restaurants now in the construction pipeline, and we couldn’t be more excited about the direction our brand is headed.”
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