Chipotle Mexican Grill saw same-store sales inch up 2.2 percent for the first quarter of 2018 — the inaugural period under the leadership of new CEO Brian Niccol.
It was the Denver-based chain’s fifth consecutive quarter of positive same-store sales. During the period, sales increased 7.4 percent to $1.1 billion — nearly identical results to the prior quarter. The company reported profit of $59.4 million, up from $46.1 million during the same period a year ago.
Niccol, snatched away from Millennial friendly chain Taco Bell, started March 5. That gave him only a few weeks to have any impact during the quarter ended March 31. He called the results “notable progress” that Chipotle can accelerate in the future.
“We are in the process of forming a path to greater performance in sales, transactions, margins and new restaurants,” he said in a statement. “This path to performance will be grounded in a strategy of executing the fundamentals while introducing consumer-meaningful innovation across the business.”
Chipotle released results after the market closed. Wall Street already appears enchanted by the potential of Niccol’s magical marketing touch. His sheer presence has given the company’s tarnished reputation a boost after a series of foodborne illness outbreaks in late 2015. The chain’s stock closed at $339.67 a share on Wednesday, up from $333.10 the day before.
Niccol acknowledged that he has stepped into the company at a crucial time. He said “creativity, action and accountability” are part of the company’s strategy for success.
“Chipotle will have a culture that is centered on running great restaurants, putting the customer first, innovating for today and tomorrow, supporting each other, and delivering on commitments. The future will be meaningful at Chipotle,” he said in a statement.
During the quarter, the company opened 35 new restaurants and closed two, bringing its total count to 2,441.
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