Wingstop Restaurants Inc. first opened in 1994, began franchising in 1997 and grew to 440 chicken-wing units by April 2010. It was purchased by current owner, the Atlanta-based private-equity firm Roark Capital Group, from Wellesley, Mass.-based Gemini Investors LLC and another private investor. In 2013, Richardson, Texas-based Wingstop boasted 10.5-percent domestic unit growth, ending the year with 589 U.S. restaurants. Wingstop’s menu focuses on cooked-to-order classic and boneless chicken wings, chicken strips and Glider sandwiches. All are tossed with a choice of 10 flavors, and occasional limited-time sauces. The décor is aviation-inspired, playing on the signature “wings.”
Wingstop ranked No. 3 for growth in this year’s Top 10 Growth Chains, with its $540.2 million in U.S. systemwide sales up 19.8 percent from 2012.
Keys to growth:
Expansion. In 2013, Wingstop opened 74 new restaurants. In first quarter 2014, Wingstop opened 14 new restaurants.
Franchising strategy: In first quarter 2014, Wingstop signed 25 new franchise development agreements, representing commitments for 57 new restaurants over nine states — including the brand’s first units into Kansas and Minnesota.
Increasing Average Unit Volumes. Wingstop ended 2013 with 10 consecutive years of same-store sales growth. In the company’s May 1 franchise disclosure document, it said average unit volumes this year, based on the system’s sales last year, would be about $974,025 on a unit investment targeted at $400,000. In May, Wingstop said first-quarter 2014 same-store sales rose 9.6 percent on an 8.2 percent increase in traffic.
International Expansion. Wingstop in 2013 signed a 50-restaurant development agreement in the Philippines, and the first unit opened there in June. The company plans to open its first restaurant in the United Arab Emirates later this year. It also has units in Russia, Mexico and Singapore.
Menu Development: The company last year introduced a Mango Habanero sauce as a limited-time offer and this year featured a Chili Lime sauce LTO.