January 14/Columbus, Ohio/The Columbus Dispatch -- To cut costs and rethink its offerings, breakfast will be off the menu at about half the Wendy's restaurants where it is now served.
The company hopes to reintroduce its breakfast menu nationwide two years from now, said Roland Smith, president and chief executive of Wendy's/Arby's. The move comes as Wendy's works to improve profit margins at its restaurants, said Smith, who also serves as CEO of the Wendy's subsidiary.
The company already has cut jobs and will take steps to cut utility costs at its restaurants.
Smith, speaking at a conference at Cowen and Co. in New York, said that a little more than half of the 850 Wendy's restaurants that currently serve breakfast will continue to do so, reducing the number of locations to between 450 and 475.
No information was available on when breakfast will be eliminated at the targeted group of restaurants.
In the meantime, the company will test a revamped test breakfast menu in its Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Phoenix stores, with a goal to relaunch it companywide in 2011, he said.
Wendy's current breakfast offerings include a steak and egg sandwich, French toast sticks, a breakfast burrito, hash browns, blueberry muffins and coffee.
"We're refocusing our breakfast programs to achieve higher store profitability," Bertini said. The Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Phoenix stores are the ones with a "critical mass of stores."
The company, which offered breakfast for a short time in the 1980s, began serving it again in some stores in 2006, Bertini said.
The pause to reflect and retool the menu is no surprise to one industry analyst.
"It was intended to be different than anyone else's," said Larry Miller of RBC Capital Markets in Atlanta. "So they tried a couple of things that were different, but it eventually became a 'me-too' breakfast."
Also, most Wendy's locations were not made for breakfast in terms of convenience for consumers to get in and out with their food, Miller said. Another problem is that because breakfast was not offered in all restaurants, it made it harder for consumers to catch on, he said.
From the January 19, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition