Buffalo Wild Wings’ comps cool in Q3

Same-store sales growth at Buffalo Wild Wings slowed in the third quarter, due in part to changes in the fall sports calendar as well as the fallout of transitioning 41 franchised restaurants to company ownership.

Comps at company-owned restaurants grew 3.9 percent year over year during the quarter ended Sept. 27, and 1.2 percent at franchised locations, the chain said on an earnings call Wednesday, a slight decline from Q2.

Net earnings fell 11.6 percent, to $19.2 million.

Comps were negatively impacted by a sports calendar that resulted in one fewer week of football and less pay-per-view events than Q3 of the previous year.

Sales also cooled in a number of restaurants bought back from franchisees during Q3, as some of those locations were affected by a slowdown in the oil industry, while others saw sales soften due to changes enacted during the switch in ownership.  

Still, the chain asserted that some of the slowdown was due to a general shift in the market. “When you look at the market as a whole, and I think there has been a softening in same-store sales, well we outperformed the market, we do tend to move with the market,” COO Jim Schmidt said.

Executives said they have seen initial success with some recent initiatives, such as the pilot of a loyalty program called Blazin’ Rewards. “Guests love the ability to earn points for checking in at Buffalo Wild Wings,” CEO Sally Smith said.

The brand is continuing to test handheld payment devices in nearly 20 locations. 

Buffalo Wild Wings lowered its net earnings guidance for the full fiscal year, anticipating growth in the single-digit range, below the 13 percent it had previously anticipated. 

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