First-quarter same-store sales for Bloomin’ Brands Inc., parent to Outback Steakhouse and other brands, suffered from coronavirus restrictions but the casual-dining operator was able to nearly triple its off-premise sales in March, the company said Thursday in a business update.
“We have grown our sales each week since we pivoted to an off-premise only model on March 20,” said David Deno, CEO of the Tampa, Fla.-based company, which also owns Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. “We have nearly tripled our total off-premise business since the beginning of March.”
Deno added that “these strong off-premise results have allowed us to keep substantially all of our locations open during this time.” The company provided average off-premise sales numbers and same-store sales comparisons for the five weeks ended in March as well as for each of the two weeks of the second quarter ended on April.
The company will release earnings on May 8, but it provided preliminary results Thursday, which includes sales by brand and look at U.S. same-store sales for the quarter, which ended March 29. The blended same-store sales decline was 10.4%, and included by brand:
Outback, down 9.5%
Carrabba’s, down 8.7%
Bonefish, down 13.9%
Fleming’s, down 13.2%
Deno said Bloomin’ Brands had not terminated or furloughed any of its 90,000 employees as a result of COVID-19.
“For hourly employees impacted by the closure of our dining rooms, we have provided four weeks of relief pay to date and free meals for pick-up,” Deno said in his statement. “We hope to be able to continue providing these benefits and will reassess our ability to do so every two weeks. In addition, I have suspended my salary, and the board of directors has suspended their cash retainers.”
Deno said the company has stopped non-essential spending, significantly reduced marketing expenses and deferred nearly all capital expenditures. He said the only current capital expenditures were related to maintenance that supported the off-premise business.
“These efforts have allowed us to minimize our ongoing cash burn, and we are confident about our ability to navigate the current environment,” he said.
As of April 15, Bloomin’ had about $304 million of cash on hand, Deno said.
“At recent sales levels, we expect our ongoing weekly cash burn rate to be approximately $8 million to $10 million, excluding any additional changes to net working capital,” he said.
Deno added: “I am more convinced than ever of the important role that full-service restaurants will continue to play in the lives of our customers and our communities.”
Bloomin’ Brands has more than 1,450 casual-dining restaurants in 48 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and 20 countries. Some international locations are franchised.
For our most up-to-date coverage, visit the coronavirus homepage.
Learn lessons in leadership during a crisis from our panel of experts on Friday, April 17.
Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless