Industry News | November 2, 2017 | By Alex Dixon | QSR Exclusive Brief

Shake Shack Poised for Biggest Growth Year Ever

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Boosted by both revenue and overall sales increases of nearly 27 percent during its latest quarter, Shake Shack is planning to open more locations in new markets throughout 2018.

During a conference call Wednesday, CEO Randy Garutti said the company plans to open between 32 and 35 new company operated locations by the end of 2018, with about 20 percent of those units expected to open in new markets. 2018 will be the biggest year of unit openings for Shake Shack to date, and will result in year-over-year unit growth between 36 and 40 percent. Shake Shack has revised its forecast of opening 24 restaurants by the end of 2017 to potentially opening 26 units.

New units will include a Shake Shack at LAX Airport and at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. During the third quarter, Shake Shack entered the San Antonio market and added its second Michigan location.

While sales and revenue increased during the third quarter thanks to year-over-year unit growth of 36 percent, Shake Shack’s same-store sales fell by 1.6 percent compared to a 2.9 percent increase last year. Traffic decreased 3.8 percent.

“We’re pleased with both our top and bottom line growth in the third quarter despite the negative impact of Shack closures caused by two major hurricanes,” Garutti said, adding that the company closed nine locations for a total loss of 33 operating days during the storms.

Earlier this month, Shake Shack launched its kiosk-only, cashless store and tested a split kitchen for greater throughput. Garutti says that the company will continue to invest in these types of innovations and expects an increasing proportion of ordering to be conducted through the Shack app and delivery channels.

“Our average check via the app remains higher than in Shack,” he said. “We're seeing encouraging return rates from our app users and while [it’s] still in the early days for us, we believe the Shack app is a really important tool for us to deepen our connection with our guests with a strategic push towards more personalized marketing initiatives to drive greater frequency and spending.”

Shake Shack launched its Hot Chick’n LTO during the quarter, and will continue to test chicken as an expanded menu category.

Garutti says that the brand has been pleased with delivery pilots and there is high demand for Shake Shack delivery.

“In terms of where we ultimately go with delivery, anything we choose to build will be with long-term sustainable economics in order to create a strong healthy business,” Garutti said. “For now, you’ll continue to see us approach this area of our business thoughtfully and strategically.”