Tuesday, July 23, 2013

News nuggets you might've missed today

Domino’s finds tech to be a market share gainer
Who says discounting is the only way to snag pizza customers? Domino’s is learning that technology can also pull market share from competitors, especially mom-and-pops.

“Our focus on technology and consumer access via digital ordering continues to give us an edge over our competition,” CEO Patrick Doyle explained to investors after revealing that the chain has updated its app for the new Windows Phone 8.

It’s an advantage “particularly versus the smaller players that continue to lag behind,” Doyle continued. “Even if the regionals catch up to the level of technology we currently offer, we're already several years ahead of them and expect to keep pushing to lead the industry on technological innovation.”

Doyle was asked how much of Domino’s business will come from digital ordering platforms in the future. “I certainly think that we'll see it above 50%,” he replied. “We've got 3 or 4 countries that are now at that level.”

Doyle noted that most of the chain’s sales growth is coming today from the theft of competitors’ business rather than from growth of the whole pizza segment.

Oh, good: More on the royal birth…
Restaurants can turn any high-profile event into a promotional opportunity, even the rare birth of a monarch. Consider, for instance, Dunkin’ Donuts’ introduction of a new Royal Munchkin today. There’s no edible crown, just pink, blue and white sprinkles.

Meanwhile, sister chain Baskin-Robbins is stoking global elation over the arrival of the U.K.’s future king with the introduction of a Baby Shower Cake. The treats “help people celebrate the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s new son,” crows parent company Dunkin’ Brands. And if they generate a few extra bucks for franchisees, all hail the king.

New York City’s Tea and Sympathy played off its British theme by breaking out the bubbly after the birth was announced. Patrons no doubt drank the hooch with a bent pinkie while muttering Brish-isms like, “I say, old chap…”

Wendy’s new burger is no piece of cake
Adding the new Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger wasn’t without its back-of-the-house challenges for Wendy’s, CEO Emil Brolick revealed to investors in a conference call today.

“When you look at our operating system, I will tell you it's not easy handling things like Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburgers,” he explained. To build it, kitchen staffers use “a very, very high quality natural cheddar cheese.” Brolick didn’t say it, but cheddar is usually brittle. And because of the quality, Wendy’s version isn’t at the bottom of the pricing range.

Ditto, presumably, for the smoky honey mustard that the chain uses just for that sandwich. And the bacon “is extremely hard to find out there, it's a center-cut bacon,” stressed Brolick.

The result, he said, is one of Wendy’s most anticipated new products. “I would say you'd be hard-pressed to find this other than going to a quick casual restaurant,” Brolick noted. Yet, he observed several times, the price is more in the range of a traditional quick-service restaurant.

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