SAN DIEGO – A turnaround in comparable sales in the most recent quarter didn’t keep discontent from popping up among Jack in the Box franchisees. The National Jack in the Box Franchisee Association (NFA), citing sliding comparable sales and lack of marketing support, called for CEO Lenny Comma to resign and for the board of directors to replace the entire leadership team.
The call to action came as a majority of the association’s members cast a “No Confidence” vote in the system’s leadership during the group’s annual meeting in July. Ninety-five franchisees representing the ownership of approximately 2,000 restaurants out of a system-wide total of approximately 2,240 restaurants comprise the NFA’s membership. The association released a list of changes and concerns its members want addressed including:
- The restructuring of upper management, including replacing Lenny Comma as CEO.
- The appointment of a qualified CEO with strong and effective experience and demonstrable success in developing an organization like Jack in the Box in terms of size and complexity.
- The appointment of a dedicated Chief Marketing Officer with a clear strategic vision and plan of execution for the company.
- The cessation of questionable financial tactics like reducing support staff and infrastructure so as to avoid further reduction of already depleted G&A expenses and resources.
- The use and expenditures of the system’s Marketing Fund have not been fully or adequately shared with the association resulting in serious concerns about use, allocation and management of the fund.
- The enforcement of the association’s and franchisees’ rights arising out of a prior settlement agreement entered into in 1999.
“Following an extended period of time that was characterized by a lack of effective reaction by Jack in the Box leadership to remedy our expressed concerns which include among other things, a severe lack of corporate resources being devoted to providing service, support, assistance and marketing to the franchisee community and which have caused an unsustainable loss in sales and transactions, our membership has cast a vote of ‘No Confidence’ in the executive leadership at Jack in the Box and are asking for immediate response and action by the company’s board of directors,” said Michael Norwich, NFA board chairman.
In a statement to Bloomberg, the company said it is open to “constructive feedback” on solutions to the association’s concerns. Meanwhile, system same-store sales in the third quarter ended July 8, 2018 climbed 0.5 percent after a decline of 0.2 percent in the comparable year-ago period.
“Our third quarter operating results were in line with our expectations, with system same-store sales returning to positive territory,” Comma said at the time. “We are pleased that this momentum has continued into the fourth quarter without resorting to deep discounting that we believe is not in the best interests of the long-term health of the brand.”