Nov 3, 2019 | Report Announcements

Hardee’s brand positioning as a regional chain with a Southeast & Midwest orientation is around hand-crafted down-home food, done right. This includes the following attributes: table service; made-from-scratch breakfast biscuits; made-to-order charbroiled burgers (with over-sized patties & Black Angus options); hand-breaded chicken tenders; charbroiled chicken line with no artificial ingredients, preservatives or antibiotics; and hand-scooped ice cream shakes. The chain is also distinguished by its high-mix breakfast business which is strengthened by its new Rise and Shine Coffee program (freshly brewed in-restaurant every hour). While Hardee’s has been reluctant to compete with the larger, national players around value/discounting (the brand lacks sufficient share of voice to promote both quality & value sufficiently to overcome trade-down), the chain has recently improved its competitive positioning with an increased value focus, offering options from $2 individual deals to $6 bundles. We also appreciate CKE’s progress in separating Hardee’s & Carl’s (in terms of marketing & menu), benefitting both brands given sharply different geographies and demos. Having said all this, remaining headwinds include operational complexities associated with its hand-crafted premium positioning in the form of higher labor costs, slower service speeds and an inability (so far) to offer all-day breakfast and extended late-night hours. Further, Hardee’s underperforming AUV has been trending down over the last several years, reflecting: comp declines; a high-mix of low-ticket breakfast sales; and an opportunity for greater capacity utilization during dayparts beyond breakfast. The system would also benefit from more progress around digital/loyalty. In conclusion, stakeholders must continue to exercise patience in a difficult competitive operating environment as CKE’s relatively new management team continues to reinvigorate the chain’s considerable brand equity built upon quality biscuits, burgers & tenders.

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