The head of Hardee’s independent franchisees told CKE Restaurants, Inc., stockholders today that CEO and President Andy Puzder and his management team deserve credit for improved sales and financial performance of Hardee’s — but urged the company to continue to act on input of its franchisee network.

CKE disclosed improved sales and financial results earlier this week which resulted in a five-year high for its stock price.

Independent Hardee’s Franchisee Association (IHFA) President Lee Staak, an Iowa franchisee and 28-year industry veteran, told shareholders today that the revamping of Hardee’s and launch of the Thickburger brings “a new momentum to Hardee’s that many of us haven’t seen for years.” Staak’s remarks were the first time that the franchisee association, which represents 90 percent of all domestic franchises, has spoken publicly to shareholders.

Staak urged the company during a question and answer session to keep consistency as a top theme: “consistency in our branding messages, consistency in operational issues, and consistency with the experiences enjoyed by our customers when they come through the doors of a Hardee’s.”

Staak said Hardee’s is listening and working with franchisees “like never before,” and the IHFA franchisees, representing 1,200 restaurants, “are committed to working with CKE by bringing a solid, grounded perspective.”

Staak bluntly noted, “I for one believe that CKE and Hardee’s Food Systems have been surprised at times by the credibility and effectiveness of feedback and the ideas that IHFA franchisees have brought to the table.”

Staak said that as the independent voice for franchisees, the IHFA doesn’t always agree with the parent company. “On occasion we have differed strongly,” he noted. Nonetheless, Staak said he wanted to congratulate Puzder: “The strategic rebranding undertaken by Andy and his team with the revolution of Hardee’s is a success. We applaud what you have done thus far in creating a revolutionary approach for the brand with the Thickburger and other menu items. The results speak for themselves.”

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