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SEC Filings

CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL INC filed this Form 10-K on 02/08/2018
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national and regional chains. Many of our competitors offer dine-in, carry-out, online, catering and delivery services. Among our main competitors are a number of multi-unit, multi-market Mexican food or burrito restaurant concepts, some of which are expanding nationally. In recent years, competition has also increased significantly from restaurant formats like ours that serve higher quality food quickly and at a reasonable price. 

Moreover, we may also compete with companies outside the fast casual and quick service and casual dining segments of the restaurant industry. For example, competitive pressures can come from deli sections and in-store cafés of several major grocery store chains, including those targeted at customers who want higher-quality food, as well as from convenience stores, cafeterias and other dining outlets. Meal kit delivery companies and other eat-at-home options also present some degree of competition for our restaurants.  In addition, our strategy includes opening additional restaurants in existing markets, and as we do so sales may decline in our previously-opened restaurants as customers who frequent our established restaurants begin to visit a newly-opened restaurant instead.

We believe that competition from all of the foregoing has made it more challenging to maintain or increase the frequency of our customer visits, and that those competitive pressures will continue or increase in the future.

Many of our competitors have existed longer than we have and may have a more established market presence with substantially greater financial, marketing, personnel and other resources than we have. These and other competitors may attract customers with, among other things, a more diverse menu, lower operating costs and prices, better locations, better facilities, better management, more effective marketing and more efficient operations than we have.   

Additionally, although we continue to believe that Chipotle can differentiate itself with our commitment to higher-quality and responsibly-sourced ingredients, competitors have increasingly made claims related to the quality of their ingredients, or distinctions between artificial and natural flavors, colors and preservatives.  The increasing use of these claims in the marketplace, even if the substantive basis for some of them may be questionable, may lessen our differentiation and make it more difficult for us to compete. Some of these competitors and other fast casual concepts have sought to duplicate various elements of our business operations, and more chains may copy us to varying degrees in the future.

Several of our competitors also compete by offering menu items that are specifically identified as low in carbohydrates, better for customers or otherwise targeted at particular consumer preferences. Many of our competitors in the fast-casual and quick-service segments of the restaurant industry also emphasize lower-cost, “value meal” menu options, a strategy we do not currently pursue. Our sales may be adversely affected by these and other competing products, or by price competition more generally.

Any of these competitive factors may adversely affect us and reduce our sales and profits.

Our business could be adversely affected by increased labor costs or difficulties in finding, training and retaining top performing employees.

Labor is a primary component of our operating costs, and we believe good managers and crew and outstanding training are key parts of our success. Increased labor costs due to factors such as competition for workers and labor market pressures, increased minimum wage requirements, paid sick leave or vacation accrual mandates, or changes in our restaurant staffing structure have and may continue to adversely impact our operating costs. Many companies, both in the restaurant industry and in other industries with which we compete for employees, have implemented company-wide or targeted increases in starting wages or other enhancements to their compensation and benefit programs, and we may need to act similarly to continue to attract employees.  For instance, in 2018 we plan to increase benefits to salaried and hourly managers, including additional paid leave, short term disability coverage, and a one-time cash bonus to all restaurant employees, which will increase our labor costs.   These enhancements, and any further increases in labor costs associated with additional market pressures on wages or other factors, will adversely impact our operating results.

Moreover, if our managers do not schedule our restaurant crews efficiently, our restaurants may be overstaffed at some times, which adversely impacts our labor costs as a percentage of revenue, decreasing our operating margins.  Efficient staffing may continue to be a challenge in 2018 due to continued volatility and uncertainty in our sales trends.  Additional taxes or requirements to incur additional employee benefits expenses could also adversely impact our labor costs.  And during 2018, we expect to hire a greater proportion of our restaurant managers from outside our company than we have in the past.  These employees may be more expensive to hire and train than managers promoted from crew, and we may not successfully integrate them into our restaurant teams, which could adversely impact our operations.

In addition, our success in delivering excellent customer experiences depends substantially on the energy and skills of our employees and our ability to hire, train, motivate and keep qualified employees, especially general managers and crew members. Turnover among our restaurant crews and managers has been frequent, and we aim to reduce turnover in an effort to keep top




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