Strengthening in key markets
The company has not yet revealed where the closures will occur because employees are still being notified. However, Rebel said, “They were all cash-flow negative and I would say only a handful were in markets that were even modestly cash-flow positive.”
The 67 units generated about 13 percent of company-unit sales during the first half of the year, he said.
Based on results for the first half of the year, Rebel said the estimated pro forma impact of the closures would be a 500 basis-point increase in margins; earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, would improve by about $4.5 million; operating earnings would climb by $7 million; and general and accounting expenses would be lowered by about $750,000.
Going forward, the strategy will be to focus on markets where Qdoba’s position is strong, said Rebel.
In the last couple of years, the company has been strategically acquiring high-performing franchise units in certain markets, he said, “and that’s where we’ll continue to focus growth.”
Jack in the Box is expecting to open 70 to 75 new Qdoba restaurants systemwide in fiscal 2013, including approximately 40 company units. In 2014, however, the company plans to modestly back off on growth for Qdoba, opening 60 to 70 new locations, about half of which will be company owned.
Rebel said the focus on select markets is already showing traction. Newer restaurants that have opened during the first half of 2013 are showing annual sales volumes higher than the system average, he said.
Meanwhile, Casey also plans to look for ways to leverage synergies between Qdoba and its quick-service sister brand Jack in the Box, Rebel said. Like at Jack in the Box, Qdoba may see organization and structural changes, he hinted, but he declined to offer specifics.
For its April 14-ended second quarter, San Diego-based Jack in the Box Inc. reported a 39-percent decline in net income, weighed down in part by negative trends at Qdoba brand.
For the quarter, Qdoba reported a same-store sales decline of 1.5 percent systemwide, including a 2-percent drop among company units. At Jack in the Box, same-store sales rose 0.1 percent systemwide.