HOUSTON Luby’s Inc., the operator of 120 restaurants in the Southwest, reported Wednesday that the chain’s decreasing sales, which led to a $2.2 million loss in its fiscal first quarter, will likely continue through 2009.
To combat the sales weakness, Luby’s introduced last month a new branding and advertising campaign, themed “Here, You Rule,” that it said highlights the chain’s made-from-scratch foods and the guest-controlled dining experience. Luby’s restaurants are cafeterias, and in 2007 the chain introduced a new prototype aimed at updating the restaurants with a more contemporary look. At least four restaurants were opened under the new prototype this year, but for 2009 the company said it plans to open only one or two new locations.
For the first quarter ended Nov. 19, Luby’s posted a net loss of $2.2 million, or 8 cents per share, compared with year-earlier earnings of $4.8 million, or 17 cents per share.
Latest-quarter revenue fell 7.9 percent to $65.9 million and reflected a same-store sales decline of 6.7 percent. The chain, located mostly in Texas, said restaurant closures from Hurricane Ike hurt same-store sales by 2.9 percent.
The company recently introduced a catering division, and sales under that arm nearly doubled in the latest quarter to $3 million.