Oct 2, 2020 | Report Announcements

Denny’s unique “America’s Diner” brand positioning provides the promise of everyday value with craveable, indulgent products (comfort food) served around the clock in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Its “See You at Denny’s” messaging is designed to prompt consumers to check out the brand’s ongoing makeover which includes a menu overhaul using higher quality ingredients to go with remodeled stores featuring a more comfortable dining space. The chain’s core menu equity reflects: everyday value; LTO innovation; warm, friendly “come as you are” atmosphere; and 24/7 availability. Essentially, menu positioning largely reflects the idea that consumers want to indulge when they dine-out and Denny’s is happy to oblige with its well-known signature menu items including its famous Original Grand Slam platter. Efforts to move its positioning beyond serving breakfast all-day are helped by increased credibility with platforms like its burgers, melts & skillets that address lunch and dinner. The brand’s value position benefits from its: $2468 platform; value LTOs (rotating offers at the $2/4/6/8 price points; $5.99 Super Slam; the new $6.99 Super Duper Slam Served With All-You-Can-Eat Buttermilk Pancakes); senior discounts; and kids eat free deals. Denny’s On Demand platform is gaining traction post-lockdown and appeals to a younger demo attracted by 24/7 off-premise access. Long-term sales tailwinds include: off-premise growth; improved menu offerings; improvements in foodservice & environment which are driving higher guest scores; upselling facilitated by Delight and Make It Right service model; better management of ticket times through training for quicker problem resolutions; and remodeled stores. Having said all this, it is notable that Denny’s post-lockdown comps have been hard hit because of its positioning as a sit-down brand with a core competency around breakfast (the most challenged daypart) and, according to our unit economic recovery model, the chain’s full-year 2020 AUV is estimated to decline by -32% y/y. 31 closures during 1H20 mostly represented low performing AUV stores (part of the reality of a 60+ year old system) and additional closures are expected in the near-term. In conclusion, Denny’s turnaround and comfort food appeal well supports the brand’s positioning as a shell-shocked country returns to its love affair with eating-out with friends and family.

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