Chipotle co-CEO Steve Ells, being extremely careful to avoid actually saying the words “Taco Bell,” took a few not-so-subtle jabs at his competitors in today’s conference call with analysts.The way Chipotle does its business is not an easy thing to copy, and though a competitor could offer a similar item, it’s probably only the same on the surface, he said.
Like, say, a company that sells grilled chicken, for instance.
“Yet ‘that company’ does not have a grill, nor do they have knives or cutting boards,” said Ells. “So how do they make real chicken and cut it up?”
“And in the end the customers realise the difference,” he said. “Be careful of those who have a lower cost opportunity … The customer’s not easily fooled.”
Ells stressed that Chipotle offers elements of a real, sit-down dining experience, and that what the chain does is unique to the fast food world. He also mentioned that the “interactive format” — the burrito assembly line that every customer runs through — is an important part of what Chipotle does.
The rivalry between Chipotle and Taco Bell has heated up lately, especially since legendary short seller David Einhorn revealed he was short the stock, praising Taco Bell’s new upscale “Cantina Menu” as a major competitive risk.
Listen to Ells shred the unnamed competitor below:
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