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SEC Filings

10-K
CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL INC filed this Form 10-K on 02/08/2018
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ITEM 1A.

RISK FACTORS

The following risk factors could materially affect our business, financial condition and results of operations, and should be carefully considered in evaluating our business or making an investment decision involving our common stock. The risks and uncertainties described below are those that we have identified as material, but are not the only risks and uncertainties we face. Our business is also subject to general risks and uncertainties that affect many other companies, including overall economic and industry conditions. Additional risks and uncertainties not currently known to us or that we currently believe are not material also may materially affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Related to our Plans to Improve Our Sales and Profitability and Restore our Economic Model

Our average restaurant sales and profitability will continue to fall short of our past results unless we can significantly increase comparable restaurant sales, and there are material risks to our ability to do so.

In 2016 we experienced lower total company sales than the preceding year for the first time in our history as a public company, and our average restaurant volumes declined from $2.532 million as of September 30, 2015 to $1.940 million as of December 31, 2017.  To build our average restaurant sales we will need to increase comparable restaurant sales, which represent the change in period-over-period sales for restaurants beginning in their 13th full calendar month of operation. Changes in comparable restaurant sales are a critical factor affecting our profitability, because the profit margin on incremental comparable restaurant sales is generally higher due to the sales increases being applied against a partially fixed cost base. Conversely, declines in comparable restaurant sales, as we have seen in some periods over the past two years, have a significant adverse effect on profitability due to the loss of the positive impact on profit margins associated with comparable restaurant sales increases, while we continue to incur a certain level of fixed costs.

Our ability to increase comparable restaurant sales depends on many factors, including:





 

perceptions of the Chipotle brand and the safety and quality of our food, which may continue to be adversely impacted by actual or rumored food safety incidents or other adverse publicity, including as described below under “—We may continue to be negatively impacted by food safety incidents associated with our restaurants…”;

competition, especially from an increasing number of competitors in the fast casual segment of the restaurant industry and from other restaurant concepts whose strategies overlap with elements of our Food With Integrity philosophy, as well as from grocery stores, meal kit delivery services and other dining options;

our ability to increase menu prices without adversely impacting transaction counts to such a degree that the impact from lower transactions equals or exceeds the benefit of the menu price increase, and without “trade down” by customers or other reductions in average check in response to price increases;

executing our strategies effectively, including our marketing and branding strategies, our initiatives to expand the use of online and other digital ordering and increase sales from our catering options, our efforts to improve the overall quality of our customers’ experience and increase the speed at which our crews serve each customer, and our potential introduction of new menu items, each of which we may not be able to accomplish or which may not have the impact we expect;

changes in consumer preferences and discretionary spending, including weaker consumer spending during periods of economic difficulty or uncertainty;

initial sales performance of new restaurants, and the impact of new Chipotle restaurants in the event customers who frequent one of our restaurants begin to visit one of our new restaurants instead, as further described below under “—Our new restaurants, once opened, may not be profitable…”;

weather, natural disasters and other factors limiting access to our restaurants; and

changes in government regulation that may impact customer perceptions of our food, including initiatives regarding menu labeling and marketing claims about the origin or makeup of some of the ingredients we serve.



These factors, most of which are described in more detail in additional Risk Factors below, are beyond our control to at least some degree. As a result, it is possible that we will experience future declines in comparable restaurant sales or that we otherwise will not achieve our targeted or expected comparable restaurant sales.  Any future declines in comparable restaurant sales or failure to meet

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