DALLAS — Recent changes at Chili’s Grill & Bar led to the restaurant chain’s best quarterly performance in more than three years, said Wyman T. Roberts, chief executive officer and president of parent company Brinker International, Inc. In what he described as “a pivotal year” for the business, the company reduced menu items by 40%, “which enabled us to deliver hotter food faster and cut our longest ticket times in half,” Mr. Roberts said during an Aug. 14 earnings call.
“We coupled that with significant quality improvements and innovation around our burgers, ribs, fajitas and margaritas, and we strengthened our value proposition with our $5 margaritas and our 3 for $10 offering,” he said. “Finally, we improved convenience by elevating our technology platform and our execution of takeout, driving sequential improvement in our to-go business throughout the year, ending in double-digit growth in the fourth quarter.
“The strategy is working. Sales and traffic are both up, guests are telling us through their satisfaction scores that their experience is faster, the food is better, and the value is best-in-class. And our team appreciates this back-to-our-roots strategy and the commitment to simplify their experience. Engagement score is at all-time highs, and our employee turnover is significantly better than the industry.”
For the fiscal year ended June 27, Brinker net income was $125,882,000, equal to $2.75 per share on the common stock, down from $150,823,000, or $2.98 per share, in the prior year. Revenues totaled $3,135,417,000, down 0.4% from $3,150,837,000.
Fourth-quarter net income was $43,723,000, equal to $1.03 per share, which compared with $50,584,000, or $1.03, in the year-ago period. Total revenues of $817,093,000 were up 0.8% from $810,661,000.
Looking ahead, the company expects to lean “more aggressively” into delivery at Chili’s.
“I’ll just say we’re actively testing in many restaurants with most of the major players,” Mr. Roberts said. “And then we support a lot of the major and minor players in restaurants as well, but we’re actively learning from tests with the big players to understand, first, guest issues and acceptance and then business impacts.”