Buffalo Wild Wings thinks this sport could save its business

Buffalo Wild Wings reported another quarter of disappointing earnings.

Same-store sales were down 1.7% for the first quarter of fiscal 2016, a quarter that should be bolstered by the end of football season and March Madness.

But the company is looking to revive itself by becoming the go-to restaurant for another sport: soccer.

“Soccer is a growing sport in the United States and we’ll be the place to watch all the action on the pitch for the major tournaments this summer,” CEO and President Sally Smith said in a press release.

Smith highlighted several ways the company aims to make Buffal Wild Wings the ultimate destination for watching soccer.

“Our restaurants will be where soccer lives this summer during excitement of the Copa América and Euro Cup tournaments,” Smith said on an earnings call on Tuesday. “We’ve partnered with Heineken to promote Buffalo Wild Wings as the place to catch all the action on the pitch, during the 80 games of the tournaments. Soccer will carry increase media weight this summer and we have a co-branded spot with Pepsi.”

“As soccer is a year-around sport, we intend to win the market for soccer viewership with our great food and beverage experience, and unparalleled sports viewing environment. We’re confident Buffalo Wild Wings will regain sales momentum by focusing on these initiatives that are within our operational control.”

Buffalo wild wings saucesBuffalo Wild Wings via FoodbeastBacon-wrapped chicken wings

But despite these efforts, Buffalo Wild Wings is facing one major challenge: it appears that people might not be looking for a ‘destination’ to eat their wings.
Rival restaurant chain Wingstop is thriving, and it doesn’t offer customers a place to hang out. Roughly 75% of Wingstop’s business comes from carryout orders.

That’s likely why Buffalo Wild Wings is simultaneously investing in its takeout business, while it also focuses on encouraging customers to dine in.

Smith said that Buffalo Wild Wings aims to “[continue] to execute a strong takeout program and gain additional share.” Takeout represented 16% of total sales this quarter.

Another problem facing Buffalo Wild Wings is the high price of wings.

Wedbush Securities analysts pointed to how executives noted rising wing costs in the earnings call.

“Management indicated a large competitor is rumoured to be building inventory for a possible fall promotion, which has kept wing costs higher for a longer period of time post-March Madness,” the analysts wrote in a note to clients.

NOW WATCH: We did a blind taste test of wings from Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Papa John’s, and Buffalo Wild Wings — and the winner was clear

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