EAT – Brinker Sees Bankruptcy Cycle Continuing

EAT management commented on its conference call today about the current environment as it relates to Bennigan’s recent filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and the subsequent impact on supply within the industry. They not only recognize bankruptcies to be good for the industry, particularly the bar and grill segment, but they also see more competitors going away.

Bankruptcy is good for the market share leader so Brinker should have the biggest opportunity to capture incremental share as supply comes out of the market. To that point, management stated that it is already seeing an uptick in sales and traffic in those restaurants that are located next to a Bennigan’s that has closed.

Management comments:

“I think bigger than that is the transformation that you’re seeing in the industry, and that it used to be situations like that, companies went from some kind of financial straights to chapter 11, and just never stopped opening their doors, but certainly changes in debtor and possession or debt financing has made it much better for brands like ours as these brands are going away and that’s a positive because that takes supply out of the industry, and I think everybody has been looking for a correction in supply, and I don’t think this is the first. We have seen a lot of restaurants here in Dallas, some at the higher end, some of the lower end go away, and I’m sure if you look around the city you’re in, you’re seeing similar situations. So supply is starting to rationalize itself which a good thing for us in the grill and bar segment and it’s a good thing for restaurants overall especially if you’re well capitalized and have a good balance sheet.”

“There will be a lot more private single mom and pop restaurants going away and will be some more chains going away as well because the cost side is just too onerous right now, and that’s why the things we’re doing in our restaurants this technology hospitality, part of it is trying to figure out how to make the P&L better as well. Part of it is trying to figure out how to make more money and provide faster food experiences and better guest experiences.”

“I think you’re starting to see some of those weaker competitors go away, and they’re going to go away for good. That’s the best news of all. So I think the supply cycle is getting better. I think we’re improving ourselves in the sales cycle of casual dining, but I wouldn’t say that it’s getting ready to take off.”

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