Brinker looks to rebound after 'tough' fiscal year

by Monica Watrous
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Chili's recently introduced the Sunrise Burger and Ultimate Bacon Burger, featuring cage-free eggs and grass-fed beef patties. 

DALLAS — Brinker International, Inc., the parent company of Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy, had a “tough year in fiscal 2016,” with disappointing sales and traffic, said Wyman Roberts, president and CEO.

Net income in the year ended June 24 was $200,745,000, equal to $3.47 per share on the common stock, which compared with $196,694,000, or $3.12 per share, in fiscal 2015. Total revenues were $3,257,489,000, up from $3,002,278,000.

“We’re moving forward with a much more aggressive and what we think is a powerful strategy going into 2017, one we believe will continue to capture share in this environment,” Roberts said during an Aug. 11 earnings call with financial analysts. “And we’re already gaining traction, starting with our investments in culinary innovation.”

At Chili’s, the company recently introduced the Sunrise Burger and Ultimate Bacon Burger, featuring cage-free eggs and grass-fed beef patties. The casual dining chain also launched a new value offering, which includes a salad, burger and miniature dessert for $10.

“We’re reawakening consumers to the value and quality Chili’s has to offer built on a flexible platform that enables us to continually bring new news to consumers to keep our value propositions fresh and relevant,” Roberts said. “Innovation, value, and messaging — it all comes together to up our game in the short term and create more momentum for the long term, and we’re already seeing this strategy pay off.”

For the fourth quarter, net income was $62,342,000, or $1.12 per share, up from $57,223,000, or $0.94 per share, in the year-ago period. Total revenues were $881,681,000, up 15 percent from $764,147,000.

Comparable restaurant sales in the fourth quarter at Chili’s company-owned restaurants fell 1.8 percent and at Chili’s US franchise restaurants declined 2.1 percent. At Maggiano’s, comparable restaurant sales in the quarter fell 1.7 percent.

“We ended fiscal 2016 in line with expectations, and we begin fiscal 2017 with a solid plan to fulfill the commitments we’ve made to you and our shareholders,” Roberts said. “We’ve got great initiatives in place for Chili’s domestically. We’ve got good growth opportunities for Chili’s globally. Maggiano’s has some robust initiatives around menu, delivery, and to-go, and we’re pleased with early results.”
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