In an Q1 ’22 earnings call with analysts, CEO David Deno laid out Bloomin' Brands' four key priorities:
One: Grow in-restaurant sales by improving service levels and food offerings. Building upon the enhancements that have been made over the past two years, “We continue to look for ways to simplify the business to improve execution and consistency. This is rolling out several innovations such as new cooking technology, including advanced grills and ovens to improve food quality and productivity." For meal pacing, kitchen display systems are being rolled out now, and handheld technology for servers will be introduced in Q3. "These innovations should reduce costs and further improve customer service,” he added.
Two: Off-Premises Business. “We capitalized on our strong carryout and delivery capabilities during the pandemic. U.S. off-premises sales were over $1 billion in fiscal 2021. Retention levels held steady with Q4 and are contributing to sales outperformance,” Deno said. “We expect off-premises to remain a large and growing part of the business going forward.”
Three: Leverage operating margin gains by growing sales and reducing costs. There will be reduced reliance on discounting and promotional LTOs and “pivoted advertising spend toward more targeted higher return digital channels,” Deno explained. Bloomin’ is “aggressively pursuing efficiencies in food, labor and overhead.”
Four: Become an even more digitally savvy company.In Q1, approximately 79% of total U.S. off-premises sales were through digital channels. “Last year, we implemented a new online ordering system and mobile app to support our digital business. These technology initiatives are aimed at creating a frictionless customer experience while also enhancing customer engagement. Both have outperformed expectations, and the new app has over 1.8 million downloads. You can expect to see more activity as we improve the functionality and features of our app and digital offerings,” Deno said. “These priorities will be our guide for 2022 and beyond.”
A New Look for Outback Steakhouse
Bloomin' is among the brands looking to maximize earnings per square foot with a smaller prototype.
As demand for off-premises dining has surged, the company has been designing a Outback Steahouse prototype that is 16% smaller, or about 5,000 square feet, and about 20% less expensive to build, explained Mark Graff, Group VP of IR, on the earnings call with analysts.
Inside the new prototype, guests will notice “a brighter ambience,” a redesigned bar and décor that highlights the Outback’s Aussie heritage. “Second, the new prototype integrates the new back- and front- of-house technology enhancements,” Graff said. “This improves speed, consistency and execution while strengthening the personal guest experience.” Lessons learned from the smaller prototypes will be applied to Outback’s sister brands, including Carrabba’s and Bonefish Grill, he added.
Six new Outbacks are scheduled to open this year, and 23 additional sites are under contract. Currently there are 692 Outback Steakhouse locations open in the US.