Jimmy Johns

May 10, 2022 | Report Announcements

Jimmy John’s is the 2nd largest sub sandwich chain by system sales, behind Subway’s commanding lead. Its “freaky fast” brand equity reflects that JJ (which makes sandwiches in under 30 seconds) is the only national sub chain offering superior in-house delivery. Fast lunch delivery appeals to busy office workers and 40% of system stores are in downtown office locations. JJ’s brand positioning is also around freshness and food quality, attributes which have been bolstered by menu innovation, tech to enhance the guest experience and new marketing which includes an updated logo (medallion with the JJ initials), packaging & advertising. All meats & produce are sliced daily and JJ’s meats contain no added hormones, artificial ingredients or preservatives. Signature 9-grain wheat bread and French bread rolls are baked fresh in the store daily (JJ will not serve bread that is more than 4 hours old). TV ads were ramped-up over the past year, featuring campaigns “starring” villain & mafia boss Tony “King of Cold Cuts” Bolognavich (actor Brad Garrett) who is repeatedly out matched by Jimmy John’s. Comps popped during 2021 (although underperforming the segment average), reflecting: a consumer willingness to return to stores; traction from the brand’s repositioning; and higher delivery fees. Further, the chain’s EBITDAR margin outperformance suggests that JJ’s in-house delivery program is net accretive to the system’s profitability. However, it remains to be seen whether JJ will sustain its 2021 sales momentum in a crowded field with a much higher competitive bar than when the chain started. 2020 sales losses reflected the lack of drive-thru (only available in ~30% of the system) and an increase in telecommuting (hurting office lunch sales) post-covid to go with the added availability of 3rd party DSP delivery from sub sandwich competitors. Past sales pressure also reflected: cannibalization from new development intended to help alleviate lunch time bottlenecks; and a series of menu price increases during a time of heightened QSR discounting. It should be noted that JJ’s previous sales struggles came at a time when Quizno’s & Subway ceded market share (further accentuating JJ’s need for re-positioning). In conclusion, while the chain has taken important steps to improve its relevancy, a sustained sales rebound for Jimmy John’s would certainly benefit from a return of office workers and an increase in the availability of affordable delivery drivers sufficient to support the chain’s “freaky fast” core equity that distinguishes in a crowded field.

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