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Bravo Brio considers closing some restaurants

Company planning comprehensive review of its business to reverse sales

Bravo Brio Restaurant Group Inc. on Tuesday announced plans to review all aspects of its business — including the possibility of restaurant closures — after revealing that its same-store sales have fallen for a third straight year in 2015.

Same-store sales fell 4.6 percent in the fourth quarter at both of the Columbus, Ohio-based company’s chains, Bravo Cucina Italiana and Brio Tuscan Grille. For the year, same-store sales fell 2.8 percent at the two casual-dining Italian concepts.

“Although we met our most recent earnings guidance, we are disappointed with our sales and traffic performance,” Bravo Brio president and CEO Brian O'Malley said in a statement.

“We are now reviewing all aspects of our business including our culinary, marketing and training programs, as well as conducting an evaluation of our restaurant portfolio. Our clear objective is to improve our financial performance by rebuilding sales, driving guest counts and increasing operating margins,” he said.

The company said that as part of its review of its restaurant portfolio, it could reinvest capital in some restaurants through reimaging. It could also close some underperforming restaurants through relocations or lease expirations.

Revenues in the fourth quarter increased 0.6 percent, to $107.3 million, from $106.6 million. The company also recorded a $2.7 million loss in the quarter, or 18 cents per share, falling from a profit of $3.8 million, or 21 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.

For the year, the company’s revenues increased 3.8 percent, to $424 million, from $408.3 million. Net income fell 61 percent, to $4.6 million, or 29 cents per share, from $11.8 million, or 60 cents per share.

The decline in net income came largely from a $10.2 million asset impairment charge related to six restaurants in the fourth quarter.

Bravo recorded a 5.2-percent decrease in same-store sales in the fourth quarter, and a 3-percent drop for the year. Brio’s same-store sales fell 4.3 percent in the quarter and 2.7 percent for the full year. Combined same-store sales at the chains have fallen in each of the past three years.

O’Malley said that the company is working to make itself stand out against its Italian competitors through menu innovation, including limited-time offers that will run for a few weeks each quarter.

Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

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