LEXINGTON, Ky.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--A&W Restaurants, Inc. will soon celebrate its five-year anniversary under franchisee ownership. Since being acquired from YUM! Brands, A&W has experienced non-stop, year-over-year same-store sales and profit gains, as well as the opening of more than 40 new U.S. units, including 15 in gas and convenience stores.
“If not for the franchise partners’ investment, hard work and passion, A&W would not be where it is today.”
A&W, America’s oldest restaurant chain, was owned by YUM! for nine years. In late 2011, with sales suffering and the system losing units, a core group of franchisees established A Great American Brand, LLC to buy A&W. Kevin Bazner, A&W’s president prior to the YUM! acquisition, returned as CEO.
“A&W’s future was very much in question,” Bazner recalled. “If not for the franchise partners’ investment, hard work and passion, A&W would not be where it is today.”
As the nearly 100-year-old chain looks to 2017, it is more than surviving; it is thriving – even as many other restaurant brands report sluggish sales. Since 2012:
- System-wide sales and profits have grown every quarter, with same-store-sales up nearly 24 percent
- 41 new U.S. restaurants have been opened, with 20 new ones planned for 2017
- Introduction of 23 new products and the development of versatile prototype and kitchen designs that can be adapted to a variety of settings, including gas and convenience stores.
There are currently more than 625 U.S. A&Ws. Approximately 375 are co-branded with KFC or Long John Silver’s. The remaining are stand-alone A&W units, including 87 gas and convenience store locations. A Great American Brand also operates 310 A&W restaurants in eight countries. A&W Canada locations are separately owned and operated.
“We acquired a troubled brand with a franchise community that was very apathetic, having been neglected for many years,” Bazner said. “Our initial goal was to grow profitable sales, one restaurant at a time, and we’ve accomplished that.” With the brand stabilized, A&W is turning to adding new locations, with a new franchise sales initiative launching in early 2017. It will include a focus on gas and convenience stores.
“A&W has tremendous brand recognition. Everywhere I go people share stories and memories,” he added. “That affection – combined with our performance the last five years – is driving great interest among both current and prospective franchisees.”
In 1919, Roy Allen set up a roadside drink stand in Lodi, California, to introduce a new beverage at a parade honoring returning World War I veterans. An instant success, Allen and partner Frank Wright named the beverage A&W® Root Beer and started franchising roadside stands. A&W Root Beer is still made fresh in the restaurants from real cane sugar, water and a proprietary blend of herbs, bark, spices, and berries that are served in a frosty mug along side burgers, fries, chicken tenders and other All American Food® favorites. There are 1,100 locations worldwide.
Connect with A&W online at http://www.awrestaurants.com/franchising