Chipotle plans to open hundreds of new restaurants this year to weather the pressures and challenges that have resulted in countless closings in the industry during the coronavirus pandemic.
Brian Niccol, the manager of the fast-casual chain, repeated these plans in a post-market appearance on CNBC on Tuesday. The plans coincide with the company’s growing reliance on digital ordering.
“We plan to open 200 and hopefully more than 200 restaurants in 2021. That would be really exciting for us to go back to 200+ openings,” he said.Bad money“Host Jim Cramer in an interview.
The comments came after Chipotle released fourth quarter results after it closed. The planned store openings would increase Chipotle’s number of stores to nearly 2,000 locations and would be the first time since 2016 that the company has added more than 200 stores in a single year.
Chipotle has added at least 130 new stores to its list annually for the past five years, including 161 in the last year.
“We just got a real coast-to-coast hiring surge looking for 15,000 new employees,” said Niccol, referring to a plan announced in January. According to FactSet, the company currently has 83,000 employees.
Chipotle’s growth story is an outlier in the state of the restaurant industry across the country as diners and restaurateurs struggle to attract customers due to coronavirus restrictions and social distancing practices. According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 110,000 restaurants have either closed permanently or for the foreseeable future.
Chipotle has turned to other customer care options as indoor eateries and capacity restrictions persist in restaurants across the country. Online orders were an integral part of Chipotle’s ability to increase sales in the same store by 5% in the fourth quarter when Wall Street expectations for the sales line were met.
Chipotle posted revenue of $ 1.61 billion for the three-month quarter ended December 31, despite earnings per share of $ 3.48, 25 cents lower than analysts’ estimates. The company grew revenue more than 11.6% for the quarter.
Chipotle had full year sales of $ 6 billion, up 7% from 2019. Online sales grew 174% and accounted for 46% of the company’s business.
Delivery accounted for about half of Chipotle’s digital orders in the fourth quarter.
“One of the things we said to each other in 2020 was that we wanted to make sure we were going digital,” said Niccol. “I think we got a good grip on the delivery business.”
Chipotle’s shares rose nearly 1% to $ 1,523.05 on Tuesday, despite the fact that the stock was down more than 3% in after-hours trading.
After growing more than 65% in 2020, Chipotle stock has risen almost double-digit since early 2021.