Carl's Jr., Hardee's post comp gains

CARPINTERIA Calif. Premium “meat-as-condiment” burgers were credited for positive same-store sales at CKE Restaurants Inc.’s Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. chains, for both the latest month and quarter.

Starting last month, both brands introduced versions of the Prime Rib Burger, which featured a charbroiled, Angus beef patty topped with thinly-sliced prime rib, horseradish sauce, Swiss cheese and grilled onions. It is served on a ciabatta roll. The offering is the highest-priced burger ever on each chain’s menu, the company said. The burger sells for $4.49 by itself or for $6.49 as part of a meal with fries and a drink.

For the four weeks ended Aug. 11, same-store sales rose 4.2 percent at Carl’s Jr. and 1.4 percent at Hardee’s.

CKE has focused on its premium and higher-priced menu items and promotions when most competitors in the quick-service segment have focused on lower-priced value items to appease consumers looking to cut back on spending.

Also during the latest month, Carl’s Jr. introduced the Monster Breakfast Sandwich and a Banana Cream Pie shake. The chain’s trailing 13-month average unit volume totaled $1.5 million, an all-time high for the brand, the company said. At Hardee’s, officials credited promotions of the Red Burrito Taco Salad and the breakfast Strawberry Biscuits. The trailing 13-month average unit volume at Hardee’s was $973,000, the highest for the brand since 1995, the company reported.

For the company’s second quarter, also ended Aug. 11, same-store sales rose 3.8 percent at Carl’s Jr. and 3.3 percent at Hardee’s.

Despite the sales traction, CKE said it continued to feel pressure on food costs for beef, cheese, potatoes and oils, as well as wheat at Hardee’s. Officials said price increases and cost-cutting measures have helped offset the impact, but food and packaging costs are expected to be 40 to 50 basis points higher for the second quarter.