Domino's, McDonald's stores feel slowdown pangs as sales dip in Q4

Two of the country’s top food service operators — Jubilant FoodWorks and Westlife Development — reported their lowest same-store sales growth (SSG) in six quarters as general consumption slowdown hit the sector during the January-March period (Q4). 

The two companies, which are listed on the stock exchanges and run Domino’s and McDonald’s stores, respectively, reported SSG in the 5-6 per cent region in Q4, down from 14-25 per cent seen in the past five quarters. SSG is sales growth of stores one year and above and is a crucial metric tracked by analysts, since it gives a clearer picture of top line growth on a like-to-like basis.

While the two companies did point to a high base in the year-ago period, sector experts said lower consumer sentiment, faster roll-out of stores and competition from online food aggregators such as Swiggy and Zomato was taking a toll on the business. “Jubilant opened 30 Domino stores in Q4 while Westlife’s count was lower at seven restaurants in the period under review. At a full-year level (FY19), the two companies have added stores at a rapid pace, Jubilant at 102 (for Domino’s) and Westlife at 25 restaurants for McDonald’s. This is bound to cannabalise sales at existing stores, though Westlife has been pushing its presence into newer cities in the south,” said Abneesh Roy, senior vice-president, research, institutional equities, Edelweiss.

Amit Jatia, vice-chairman, Westlife Development, said the company had been launching stores in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh over the past few quarters and the exercise would continue in future. “According to our vision 2022 document, we are looking at 400-500 restaurants (by calendar year 2022), with same-store sales growth in the mid-to-high-single-digit range. Against a compounding base, it will be difficult to have double-digit SSG every quarter. What we’ve achieved in Q4 is a reflection of that,” he told Business Standard.

At a full-year level (FY19), SSG for Westlife and Jubilant FoodWorks came in at 17 per cent and 16.4 per cent, respectively, a result, said analysts, of the blistering pace of growth (in terms of sales) seen during the June, September and December quarters. Pratik Pota, chief executive officer and whole-time director, Jubilant FoodWorks, said his company would continue to keep excitement levels going for consumers, with innovations and new launches to ensure there were footfalls into stores. 

In the March quarter, Jubilant FoodWorks launched 10 cricket-themed pizzas as part of its innovative “World Pizza League” initiative and would continue with such thematic launches in the future. Westlife, on the other hand, relaunched its everyday value meals, introduced rice as an option in its menu and had aggressive promotions during the quarter.

Despite competition from online food aggregators, both companies have been pushing aggressively in that space in keeping with the online food-ordering trend in cities. Online sales as a percentage of delivery sales is now 75 per cent for Jubilant FoodWorks, while Westlife’s sales from the online channel (as a percentage of delivery sales) was over 50 per cent in Q4, said analysts.

Both companies are also tapping newer areas for growth. Jubilant FoodWorks, for instance, ventured into the Chinese fast casual dining space with its own restaurant called Hong’s Kitchen in March. While buzz has been growing that Westlife is eyeing the north and east McDonald’s franchise after a settlement between the American fast-food major and Vikram Bakshi, its former partner, last week. Jatia said he was focused on the south and west regions for now and that he was keen to grow the business there.

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