Wendy’s eyes new beverages, big step-up in breakfast

DUBLIN Ohio Wendy’s International said it will add at least 10 new choices, including beverages unavailable at competing brands, to the menu of its namesake chain during 2007 as part of an updated plan to bolster the company’s financial performance.

The revised strategy also calls for expanding Wendy’s breakfast program, currently in test at about 150 stores, to at least 1,320 units during 2007 and 3,300 stores, or half the now-6,600-unit system, in ’08. The company predicted it would reach the breakeven point on the morning service during ’07. In earlier disclosures, Wendy’s had said breakfast could boost per-restaurant sales by $160,000 annually.

Other initiatives disclosed to investors today include the sale of 50 company units to franchisees and the “opportunistic purchase” of franchised stores by the franchisor. Renovation plans call for $110 million to be spent on updates during the current fiscal year, and the franchisor set an expansion target of 65 to 90 new units for 2007. The home office also repeated its pledge to quicken drive-thru service, improve order accuracy and rein in general-and-administrative costs.

"The new strategic plan is already paying dividends, as it has enabled us to accelerate our timeline for operational improvements," said chief executive Kerrii Anderson.

In a revised financial forecast for the next three years, the company said it would grow revenues for 2007 by 5 percent to 6 percent annually, with same-store sales gains of 3 percent to 4 percent. It pegged its 2008 operating income at $275 million to $295 million, compared with its projected ’07 range of $215 million to $225 million.