What does Arby’s momentum look like? Here’s a timeline.
2011: Roark Capital buys Arby’s
Atlanta-based Roark Capital buys a majority interest in Arby’s. “This is an exciting day for Roark as well as Arby’s,” says Neal Aronson, managing partner of Roark Capital, which owns dozens of thriving brands. “Arby’s has decades of experience offering unique, high-quality, and better-tasting alternatives to traditional fast food. We look forward to working with Arby’s … and the dedicated ARG team members and franchisees to help this great Brand achieve its full potential.”
2011: Same-store sales growth begins to outpace QSR industry
Arby’s sales growth begins to outpace the QSR growth averages reported by The NPD Group/SalesTrack® Weekly.
April 2013: Paul Brown is named CEO
Paul Brown joins Arby’s after having served as President of Brands & Commercial Services for Hilton Worldwide, where he was the company’s global leader for brand management, product standards, marketing, sales, pricing, e-commerce, the loyalty program, franchise relations, and information technology.
“Paul is the ideal leader to further Arby’s strategic vision and build upon our strong sales performance and momentum. He will strengthen the collaborative relationship between Arby’s franchisees, ARG team members, suppliers, and stakeholders,” says Jon Luther, Chairman of Arby’s Board of Directors. “We’re thrilled to be able to attract his level of talent, which is indicative of our future growth potential.”
September 2013: Rob Lynch is named Chief Marketing Officer
Rob Lynch, who was part of a team named 2013 Marketer of the Year by AdAge magazine, joins Arby’s. “Rob’s strong track record of success working with guests and franchisees and leading the advertising and innovation efforts for billion-dollar businesses makes him an ideal addition to our industry-leading executive management team,” Paul Brown says. Rob brings new rigor to product testing and product development and emphasizes the use of social media to engage guests and target younger guests.
September 2013: Arby’s introduces Smokehouse Brisket, same-store sales skyrocket 12%
Smokehouse Brisket debuts. It is Arby’s first effort to bring a new high-quality protein to guests and change the perception of our Brand, positioning us as a Fast Crafted® deli sandwich restaurant — not just a place to get roast beef. Year-over-year same-store sales increase 12% during the promotion. The Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich earns a permanent spot on our menu.
Paul Brown, speaking to Business Insider in 2015, says the brisket “launched us on the higher growth trajectory that we’ve been on ever since. That was our first really premium sandwich that was along the lines of our internal vision of ‘deli inspired deliciousness,’ that was really great protein, great quality meats, combinations of sandwiches that you certainly can’t easily make at home.”
February 2014: ‘Arby’s SSS Growth Outpaced Industry in 2013’
Arby’s unveils the news that same-store sales grew 2.8% in 2013 versus overall industry growth of just 0.2%, according to The NPD Group.
February 2014: Twitter users fall in love with Arby’s
During the Grammy Awards, music icon Pharrell Williams appears onstage wearing a giant designer hat that resembles the Arby’s logo. We tweet him a message: “Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYs”. The message is retweeted more than 78,000 times, seen by tens of millions of Twitter users, and earns a response from Pharrell: “Ya’ll tryna start a roast beef?” The joke makes Arby’s a major topic of conversation during one of the biggest media events of the year. We do eventually get the hat, buying it at a charity auction.
May 2014: Arby’s airs 13-hour commercial for smoked brisket
Guests who try Arby’s Smokehouse Brisket sandwich love it, but a lot of naysayers have doubts that we really smoked it for 13 hours. We prove it by airing a world-record-setting commercial showing exactly how our Smokehouse Brisket gets its flavor. The commercial airs on a TV station in Duluth, MN. Guests continue to watch it on YouTube.
“We put it online, and anyone could log in and watch this brisket smoking for thirteen hours,” Rob says. “Well, we never thought that about 500,000 people were going to log in to watch this thing and spend an average of 39 minutes watching brisket cook inside an oven. It was fun, and no one doubted that we actually cook this stuff for thirteen hours after that, so mission accomplished.”
June 2014: Arby’s re-engineers restaurant design to be more cost-effective; training initiative aims to boost guest experience
This holistic, turnkey revitalization initiative includes a new building image, employee re-training program, and franchisee remodel financing solution. “Since the start of rollouts in early 2014, the revitalized restaurants have seen an average of 15 percent in sales increases, and in some cases 20 percent or more.
August 2014: ‘We Have the Meats’ ad campaign launches
Ad campaign stands out by putting the focus on the ingredients that go into our Fast Crafted® sandwiches. Rob Lynch later explains to Advertising Age that the slogan is meant to connect with younger guests. From the year ending June 2013 to the year ending June 2015, Arby’s attracts so many young guests that the percentage of guests who are ages 18 to 34 goes from 38% of guests to 54%.
November 2014: First new Inspire design restaurant opens
In addition to upgrading aesthetics, the new restaurant features a reconfigured production line that increases efficiency and reduces the amount of square footage needed. Other restaurants that remodel with the Inspire design see a strong increase in sales — more than 15% on average.
February 2015: ‘Arby’s Significantly Outperforms QSR Industry with 5.7% System Sales Growth in 2014’
Arby’s announces that same-store sales grew 5.7% in 2014, compared with just 0.8% growth for the overall QSR industry, according to The NPD Group. Over the past two years, same-store sales grew a total of 8.5%, versus 1.3% for the industry.
March 2015: Arby’s promotes John Bowie to Chief Operating Officer
ARG announces that John Bowie, Senior Vice President of Operations, is promoted to Chief Operating Officer, reporting to Paul Brown, Chief Executive Officer.
April 2015: Arby’s achieves 9.8% same-store sales growth in first quarter of 2015
Growth is driven primarily by growth in transactions combined with a shift in mix toward more premium products on the menu.
May 2015: The ARG Efficiency Matters program receives a Top Project of the Year Award in the Environmental Leader Product & Project Awards.
Efficiency Matters is a cost-saving energy management platform to help improve efficiencies in restaurants and reduce energy consumption and associated environmental and community impacts. As part of Arby’s PurposeFULL(tm) CSR program, the brand remains committed to being a good steward of the environment and a green and responsible company.
July 2015: Same-store sales up 7.6% in second quarter
“Our continued momentum shows that our differentiated, Fast Crafted® positioning and focus on service culture, innovative products, and breakthrough marketing is working,” says Paul Brown.
July 2015: Arby’s debuts brown sugar bacon, sets up support line for vegetarians
Some people hate the We Have the Meats ad campaign. They’re called vegetarians. We know that nothing tempts vegetarians more than bacon, so when we roll out our brown sugar bacon promotion, we set up a toll-free support line just for vegetarians, 1-855-MEAT-HLP, and we make it a featured part of our ad campaign. Not everybody gets the joke, but enough people enjoy it to drive a spike in same-store sales.
August 2015: Arby’s turns years of Jon Stewart jokes into an epic send-off for comedian
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has taken plenty of jabs at Arby’s over the years. When the comedian announces plans to retire, we get the last laugh by inviting him to apply for a job at email@example.com, then produce an ad for the penultimate show featuring the song “Thank you for Being a Friend,” combined with a compilation of his harshest Arby’s jokes. Viewers are stunned: Arby’s has a great sense of humor! What a cool company! Let’s go try it!
— Linda Chung (@lindachung321) August 7, 2015
October 2015: Arby’s guests devour 29 million sliders in debut month
On Aug. 31, Arby’s introduces Sliders, a lineup of mini-sandwiches featuring five of the same high-quality proteins offered on the core menu: roast beef, chicken, corned beef, ham, and jalapeno roast beef. During the month of September, Arby’s guests respond to the mini-meat marvels by purchasing 29 million of them – that’s nearly 1 million Sliders per day and roughly 300 Sliders sold daily per Arby’s restaurant across America.
October 2015: Arby’s achieves 9.6% same-store sales growth in Q3 2015
A significant majority of the sales increase is attributed to traffic growth, based on data from Arby’s Restaurant Group’s corporate-owned restaurants. Compared with two years earlier, sales are up 20%. Average unit sales for Arby’s restaurants systemwide grow by $189,000 from 2011 to the third quarter of 2015.
January 2016: Arby’s announces 8.1% U.S. Same-store sales growth in 2015
In 2015, Arby’s produced record system-wide sales of more than $3.5 billion, and posted the highest 1-year (8.1%), 2-year (13.8%), and 3-year (16.6%) SSS comps for the Arby’s system in more than 20 years. Arby’s has achieved 21 consecutive quarters of SSS growth.
April 2016: Same-store sales up 5.8% in Q1 2016
Same-store sales increased 5.8% compared to the year before, and were up 6.6% if you include the additional day in February thanks to leap year. Maybe vegetarians loved our Feb. 29 “Leap Day” menu featuring meatless versions of all our most popular menu items.
July 2016: QSR Magazine names Arby’s one of the 10 best franchise deals in America
The magazine partnered with Franchise Business Review to assess performance and well as franchisee satisfaction.
July 2016: Same-store sales up 3.7% in Q2 2016
The sales growth was driven by an increase in transactions — the ninth consecutive quarter of increased transactions for Arby’s, and the 23rd consecutive quarter of sales growth.