Zaxby’s reports increased sales and unit volume despite the down economy and forecasts further growth in 2009.

In 2008, the nearly 500-unit chain saw its third consecutive year of same store sales growth. The chain reported increases of more than 8 percent in 2006 and 2007 and a 5.6 percent increase in 2008. Total sales grew 18 percent in 2008 making Zaxby’s one of the nation’s fastest growing quick-casual concepts.

“We feel very fortunate to be performing as well as we are given the current economy,” says Zach McLeroy, Zaxby’s CEO and co-founder. “The Zaxby’s brand has always been about delivering an exceptional product and dining experience at a great value, and we think we continue to thrive in times like these because of that sound business model and the passionate people behind it.”

The chain opened more than 50 units last year, including three in Dallas-Ft. Worth, as it expanded into Texas. Also planned for development are markets in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
Zaxby’s growth model is focused on building market density, allowing individual locations to pool money together for marketing initiatives, benefitting licensees so they’ll not only endure this economic slump but flourish.

“Zaxby’s has a great brand supported by strategic marketing that’s allowing its licensees to deliver a unified message while still making meaningful grassroots connections in each of our markets,” says Eric Hefner, who owns 20 Zaxby’s locations and employs more than 700. “And even in these tough times, we’re creating jobs and making a difference in the communities we serve.”

Last year, Zaxby’s unveiled a snack-sized sandwich named the Nibbler, and a limited-time Asian-inspired salad, named The Zensation Zalad. Both items are credited with boosting sales. The company is also currently offering its sweet and spicy Boneless Wings Meal, a customer favorite brought back by popular demand.

Zaxby’s is bolstering sales with continued marketing efforts surrounding new menu items and quarterly promotions. “In a challenging economy, we’re focusing our product development strategies towards creating compelling value propositions that our guests will enjoy,” says Stephanie Struble, Zaxby’s director of brand development. “Along with our popular offerings, new signature items keep guests interested and coming back for more.”

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