Jack in the Box reports best same-store sales in 4 years

The company said its comparable-store sales have increased for nine straight years, but wage inflation hurt store profits last quarter.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Same-store sales rose 3% at Jack in the Box in the quarter ended Sept. 29, the company said Wednesday. It was the best performance for the San Diego-based fast-food burger chain in four years.

Company-owned restaurants generated 3.5% same-store sales growth, including a 0.7% increase in transaction count. Franchisee-owned restaurants’ same-store sales rose 3% in the period. Franchisees own the vast majority of Jack in the Box’s 2,200 locations.

Jack in the Box CEO Lenny Comma said in a statement that same-store sales have risen for nine straight years.

Despite the improved same-store sales, profits at the store level declined 190 basis points to 24.2% of company store sales because of “wage and commodity inflation.”

Minimum wages have increased in California, home to many Jack in the Box locations, as they have in several other states and localities. Competition for a dwindling pool of workers has also increased wages in many markets.

Rising commodity costs are relatively new. Jack in the Box said that commodity costs increased 4.4% in the quarter.

Comma said that the company would build on its sales results in the quarter by working to improve operations and shrink wait times. It also plans “targeted investments to maximize our returns.”

The chain also wants to return to unit growth. The burger chain has been stagnant in recent years as it focused on selling its company-owned units to franchisees. “With our refranchising initiative complete, we have a renewed focus on expanding unit growth,” Comma said.

Net earnings at Jack in the Box were $22 million in the quarter, or 86 cents per share, up 37% from the same period the year before.

Jack in the Box stock rose 3% in after-hours trading Wednesday.

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