Noodles & Company is projecting 8 percent unit growth in 2022. From 532 locations in 2016 down to 454 locations in 2020, after five continuous years of losing units, Carl Lukach is ready to return to growth business. Carl joined Noodles & Company as Chief Financial Officer in November 2020 after previously working in finance and development roles for luxury fitness brand Equinox and apparel brand Abercrombie & Fitch.
“We’re doing so now with a tremendous amount of bench strength from our managers,” Lukach continued, “meaning we’re opening up restaurants in continuous markets or existing markets. So making sure the right team is there at new units, but also making sure that we are committed to hitting a 30 percent cash-on-cash return, and that’s where I’ve been leaning in.”
“By 2024, we want to be $1.45 million AUV and 20 percent contribution margins,” he said, “so just in the past couple quarters, we’ve made tremendous strides to achieve record level of AUVs in the company’s history. In the third quarter (of 2021), we were at $1.38 million AUV.”
Noodles is set to open about nine new units in the first quarter of 2022, two of which will be franchisee-owned. The company also recently signed a 55-unit restaurant deal in California with franchisee Warner Foods, which also operates more than 150 Jack in the Box, Black Bear Diner, and Panera Bread restaurants. Warner Foods, which will operate as NorCal Noodles, is the exclusive franchise partner for the state of California and will develop 40 new restaurants in the next 12 years, plus refranchise 15 company-owned stores as part of the agreement.
In addition, they aim to create 100 Black-owned franchise restaurants by the end of 2023 by finding franchisees from the Pathways to Black Franchise Ownership program.
“From a DE&I (diversity, equity and inclusion) perspective, you never should pause on that,” Lukach said. “You should always be leaning in and always trying to understand your guest and team more, asking questions. It’s a continuous journey.”
With around four million loyalty members using its rewards program, they plan to push digital retention with a more personalized approach. For instance, the company is also offering exclusive previews of new menu launches to digital guests, such as the two-week sneak peek of its tortelloni dishes in June.
“It’s just a fast industry, which has been really attractive, and what that means is, if you’re smart and data-focused and make quick, informed decisions…you can really stand out as a leader and as a company,” Lukach added.
Source: Franchise Times
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