Chipotle Mexican Grill continued to outpace the restaurant industry as a whole and conventional quick-service restaurants in particular during the third quarter, posting a year-over-year same-store sales gain of 19.8 percent.
Comparisons were helped by a 6.3-percent price increase, but most of the jump came from traffic gains, according to the company. Six more transactions were handled per hour during the lunch and dinner rushes, said founder and co-CEO Steve Ells.
Profit margins also improved, despite a rise in the costs of beef, avocados and dairy products, the executives said. Food costs hit 34.3 percent of sales during the quarter, they revealed.
The chain opened 43 restaurants during the quarter, expanding the chain to about 1,700 stores.
Ells cited the results as validation of the concept’s strategy of using “ingredients from more sustainable sources and prepared using classic cooking techniques.”
In a Q&A with financial analysts after releasing results, Chipotle CFO John Hartung commented that the company doesn’t expect the Affordable Care Act to cost the company more than 1 percent of sales during 2015.