Wendy's to scale back breakfast menu plans

by Eric Schroeder
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NEW YORK — Hoping that the third time is the charm, Wendy’s/Arby’s Group on Tuesday said it will scale back the number of Wendy’s restaurants selling breakfast items and plans to relaunch the program nationally in 2011.

Speaking at the Cowen and Company Consumer Conference in New York on Jan. 13, Roland Smith, president and chief executive officer of Wendy’s/Arby’s, stressed that despite the decision to scale back, breakfast remains "a huge opportunity" for the restaurant chain.

"The company started a breakfast program in 2006 and rolled it out," Mr. Smith said. "Unfortunately, the products were not high quality. They did not meet the expectations of the consumers and so we are refocusing on better tasting, differentiated and high-quality breakfast products."

Some of the products that used to be on the Wendy’s breakfast menu include a Buttermilk Frescuit Sandwich, a Steak & Egg Sandwich, a Big Breakfast Sandwich, a Grande Burrito and French Toast Sticks.

As part of its 2009 action plan, Mr. Smith said Wendy’s will reduce the number of stores offering breakfast to 450 to 475 from 850, and will focus on three markets: Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Phoenix.

The company plans to test market expansion in late 2009 through 2010 and intends to roll the menu out nationally in 2011.

According to Wendy’s, breakfast sales account for 2.2% of the company’s daypart mix, which compares with lunch at 37.5% and dinner at 21.7%.

The latest move will mark the third time Wendy’s has given its breakfast menu a facelift. The restaurant chain first debuted breakfast in 1985, but encountered several problems, including food that wasn’t convenient to eat with one hand while driving and long preparation time. Then, in 2006, the company reintroduced the breakfast menu behind a $30 million advertising campaign.

Wendy’s/Arby’s group shares rose nearly 4% in early morning trading on Jan. 13.

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