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Wingstop’s Q4 same-store sales rise 6%

The company said it is working on pickup lockers and plans national ads in 2019.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Wingstop’s U.S. same-store sales rose 6% in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 29, the company said in a preliminary earnings release on Monday.

Same-store sales rose 6.5% for the year, the company said, the 15th straight annual increase in the key measurement of a restaurant chain’s financial health.

The Dallas-based chicken wing chain’s system sales rose 16% last year to $1.3 billion, thanks to those same-store sales as well as new unit growth. The company has 1,252 locations, including more than 1,100 in the U.S.

To maintain that momentum, Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison told investors at the ICR Conference in Orlando on Monday that the company plans to keep expanding delivery in 2019 and plans more national advertising.

Last year, Morrison said, Wingstop asked operators to increase their advertising contribution to 4% of sales from 3%. That will help fund a pair of national campaigns this year, with the first coming right after the Super Bowl.

The ads will target groups the company has not traditionally targeted with its marketing: Heavy fast-food users.

“That unlocks great potential for an increase in new customers,” Morrison said.

Wingstop is also working on a number of elements to improve its digital presence. More than a quarter of the largely takeout-based company’s sales come through digital channels, and the chain is working to bolster that number.

It is testing ordering kiosks, as well as pickup devices such as lockers for customers to get the orders they submit online.

And Wingstop continues to work on delivery. It recently expanded delivery into the Los Angeles and Houston markets, making it available at 30% of the company’s locations. Both markets are “performing consistently” with the chain’s prior test markets.

Wingstop plans to keep expanding the service this year—with delivery at up to 80% of the chain’s domestic locations by the end of the third quarter and plans to start promoting the service next year.

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