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Applebee’s Sept. comps barely positive

OVERLAND PARK Kan. Domestic systemwide same-store sales at Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar continued to trend negative in the third quarter, parent Applebee’s International Inc. reported, even with a slight uptick of 0.6 percent for the quarter’s last five weeks ended Sept. 30.

Domestic systemwide same-store sales for the third quarter fell 0.3 percent, reflecting a 0.2-percent drop at corporate restaurants and a 0.4-percent drop at franchised locations. Domestic systemwide same-store sales for the first nine months of the year have decreased 1.8 percent, the company said.

Applebee’s, which has 1,953 corporate or franchised locations, was able to record a rare uptick in same-store sales for September, driven by two more weeks of television advertising versus a year ago, as well as the chain’s new Ultimate Trios promotion that company officials said was popular among diners. In addition, September sales were boosted by about 1 percent by an advertising insert in markets that covered about 75 percent of corporate restaurants. The marketing insert offered a trial incentive for a free Dessert Shooter, valued at $1.99, with the purchase of an entree or an Ultimate Trios meal.

The September systemwide sales increase of 0.6 percent reflected a 0.7-percent gain at corporate restaurants. During September, Applebee’s and its franchisees opened seven restaurants and closed four.

The company expects to release complete third quarter results during the week of Oct. 29, it said. Applebee’s has set Oct. 30 as the date for a shareholder vote on a proposed $2.1 billion buyout by IHOP Corp.

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