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Buffalo Wild Wings’ domestic unit growth would decelerate slightly next year, officials said, to an expected 45 company-owned openings and 40 franchised openings. Yet the company would remain in aggressive growth mode through an increase in its international expansion, as well as through its partly owned PizzaRev concept, and possibly more growth vehicles in the future, Smith said.

The chain aims to increase its unit count in the U.S. and Canada from 959 locations currently to 1,700 over the next 10 years, Smith said. She conceded that this would represent a slower domestic-development pace than the past few years for Buffalo Wild Wings, but as the chain builds out the United States and opens more units on the East Coast and West Coast, it will be more discerning in its real estate selection.

“You want to be careful about the cannibalization, making sure that you do get that right location,” Smith said. “We really ramped up our unit growth when we were able to take advantage of some of the weaker real estate markets in 2009 and 2010. Certainly a slowdown by developers makes finding that exact site more difficult.”

The company remains bullish on its prospects for revenue and earnings growth even with a more prudent growth pace for its namesake brand because of its newer strategy of acquiring possible growth vehicles, Smith said. The chain invested in Los Angeles-based pizza chain PizzaRev last March to begin the initiative, and would be open to more strategic investments, she said.

“We’ve begun implementing strategies to build an enduring, diversified portfolio of restaurant brands to sustain long-term growth,” Smith said. “Our equity investment in PizzaRev is an example of how we’re evaluating emerging brands to fuel our future growth.”

The first two PizzaRev locations are scheduled to open in Minneapolis in the first quarter of 2014, with several more planned by the end of next year.

Franchisees are expected to open at least 10 international locations next year in Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines, officials said. Smith also disclosed that she recently traveled to India to meet operators interested in potentially becoming franchisees.

“We think that the international market is tremendous,” she said. “The world is pretty large, and we think that wings and pork certainly are welcome everywhere. … It’s hard to put a number on it, but we have some goals.”

Buffalo Wild Wings operates across 49 states and Canada.

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN