Financing

Fast-growing Crumbl's unit volumes and store profitability took a hit last year

Average unit volume for the cookie chain declined 37% last year even as location count grew 41%. Per-store profits were cut by 58%.
Crumbl cookies
Crumbl's rapid store growth may be taking a toll on its unit economics. | Photo by Jonathan Maze

Crumbl’s rapid spread of its cookie concept across the country appears to be taking a toll on its unit volumes.

The Logan, Utah-based cookie franchise continued to add locations at a breakneck pace last year, growing unit count by 41%, which enabled the company to open its 1,000th location in February.

But those locations also make a lot less money. Unit volumes at stores open all year in 2023 averaged $1.2 million, according to the company’s franchise disclosure document, or FDD. That was a 37% decline from the $1.8 million recorded in 2022.

And those stores generate less profits. Per-store net profit was $122,955 in 2023, according to the FDD. That was down 58% from 2022.

Crumbl voluntarily reports such data in its FDD. Franchises do not have to report their unit volumes, and few report per-store profitability.

The numbers do reveal some of the risks inherent with such rapid store growth, particularly of a chain that specializes in a singular product, cookies. Crumbl’s menu is highly limited, with just six flavors of cookies, a menu that rotates each week. Its cookies are generally large and frequently shared, though the company has a smaller version for catering occasions.

By adding locations that quickly, the brand solidified a spot as the country’s largest cookie concept. Crumbl topped $1 billion in system sales last year, according to Technomic Ignite data. Technomic is a sister company of Restaurant Business.

It generated nearly five times the sales of the older cookie brand Insomnia.

By growing units so quickly, however, the brand has spread demand for cookies among a larger number of locations. And it has opened the door to troubled locations. The worst performing location lost $241,554 last year.

There have also been reports of layoffs at the store level on social media. And Crumbl itself laid off workers at its corporate headquarters last year.

Franchisees sold 54 locations last year.

Crumbl has been aggressive in the defense of its business model from copycats, having filed a number of lawsuits against companies it viewed as infringing on its copyrights. The most prominent of those lawsuits, against the Utah-based concept Dirty Dough, was settled last year.

Revenues at Crumbl increased 11% last year, according to the FDD, to $122.3 million. Net income declined 19%, however, to $42.8 million. The company did make a small acquisition of a pie concept called Crust Club, which it is apparently planning to franchise.

The brand last year ditched the word “cookies” in its logo as part of a rebranding.

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