Dunkin’ confident of position in breakfast

by Eric Schroeder
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LONDON — Paul Carbone, chief financial officer of Dunkin’ Brands, Inc., knows everyone wants to be in the breakfast and coffee category. He also knows many are chasing the model established by Quincy, Mass.-based Dunkin.

“The joke back at corporate is that we are waiting to wake up one day and Gap says they are going to start selling breakfast in their stores,” Mr. Carbone told analysts at the UBS Best of Americas Conference held Sept. 13 in London. “So, it is a very highly profitable segment.”

Mr. Carbone said McDonald’s stands as Dunkin’s No. 1 competitor, followed by gas and convenience stores at No. 2, Tim Hortons at No. 3 and Starbucks at No. 4. A number of new entrants, while “interesting,” have yet to hit the mark, he said.

“I don’t think the consumer gives them a right to play in breakfast, and I think you have seen their results,” he said. “Wendy’s pulled out of breakfast. Subway, interesting, (but) I don’t think the consumer really cares. Taco Bell, again interesting, (but) I don’t think the consumer cares if they sell breakfast. So it is a very competitive set.”

As an East coast-based restaurant chain, Dunkin’ has a lot of white space left in which to grow, especially west of the Mississippi river. Mr. Carbone said as Dunkin’ enters new markets it is taking share from the independents and McDonald’s. He said the company is advantaged due to its “world-class” speed and “differentiated product menu.”

“I think what really gives us the leg up as we go into new markets, and even in our existing markets, is two things,” he said. “The first is we are world-class at speed. And so, part of the nice thing about breakfast that I talked about, it is ritual and low ticket, it is important to be fast. So if you are going to come to me every day and it’s only a $5 ticket you are not going to wait. So we are world-class at speed, focused on drive-thrus.

“And then secondly, we have this differentiated product menu, which nobody else has. I will stack up our breakfast sandwiches against any competitor, against McDonald’s. It is something that we are focused on in the sense of to make sure we have the right real estate, to make sure we have the right product innovation, and then most importantly to make sure that the cash and cash returns stay in that north of 25%.”

Dunkin’ Donuts operates 7,500 locations in the United States, most of which are east of the Mississippi.
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