Wendy’s International Inc. today announced it will focus more attention on younger consumers in an effort to increase sales after experiencing declines in sales at restaurants open at least a year for the first time in 18 years, the Associated Press reports.

The company will start selling breakfast food in 2007 after tests this year, plans to introduce new salads and deli sandwiches, and test double-melt cheeseburgers, 99-cent chicken sandwiches, and a vanilla Frosty, instead of the traditional chocolate, executives told analysts at a meeting in New York. The company also plans to cut labor and supply costs at restaurants.

“While our customers desire great-tasting food, prepared fast and at a good value, each divergent group wants something very different from us,” chief marketing officer Ian Rowden said of the need to focus on the
16- to 28-year-olds. “Although we are meeting many of the needs, we have learned we have an opportunity within an important growth engine in our industry.”

The partial stock offering of its Tim Hortons chain remains set for March with the rest of the coffee-and-doughnut chain to be spun off to shareholders in nine to 18 months, the company told the AP.

Sales at Wendy’s locations open at least one year fell 3.7 percent in 2005. The company blames part of that decline on a hoax by a woman who said she found part of a finger in a bowl of chili, a claim that took several weeks to discredit.

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