Jack in the Box

Mar 30, 2020 | Report Announcements

While Jack in the Box is a regional system with ~70% of its stores located in California & Texas, the brand enjoys leading QSR hamburger share in 8 of its major markets. The chain’s menu is known for variety and innovation with 4 strong dayparts, including late-night which benefits from 24/7 drive-thru access. The primary idea is that Jack’s menu addresses various cravings throughout the day, including munchies at night. As value seeking consumers represent half of Jack’s customer mix (the other half seek “craveable & indulgent” menu items only available at Jack), the goal is to restore traffic losses attributed to: its 2016 decision to raise the price ceiling on its 2 tacos deal (notably tacos are unique to QSR burger chains and work well with Hispanic customers); and a steady stream of price increases designed to help offset rising costs. To this end, Jack has made great progress towards increasing its value focus with nearly 100% of its 2019 promotions representing price point value up from 50% during 2018. The chain has found success with combo promotions up to the $4.99 price point and unique snack & side offerings at prices of $1 – $4 with the lower priced snacks & sides appealing to the value seekers while driving incremental add-on sales from its more premium customers (without causing trade-down). Going forward sales should benefit from the chain’s new value equation to go with operational improvements and faster service speeds. In any case, operators have expressed strong dissatisfaction that flattish AUV growth has not kept-up with significant cost inflation over the last 4 years (the franchisee EBITDAR margin has declined by -3.2% over the last 3 years making it difficult to keep-up with the high rents often charged by the franchisor as landlord). Notably, a lack of sufficient top-line growth has been particularly challenging on the 15% of system stores with AUVs under $1MM (55% from Texas) and 17% with AUVs from $1MM to $1.25MM. In conclusion, while Jack in the Box may have strengthened its very important value positioning, the chain must still make progress in driving sales out-performance sufficient to at least offset the speed of cost inflation (particularly on the West Coast) and this may require developing a more clear distinction for its core burger and chicken menu in a crowded field of QSR+ and better burger players.

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