Boston Pizza sees same-store profit boost

Date: FEB 11th, 2008

Topic: Franchise News

VANCOUVER – Boston Pizza Royalties Income Fund and Boston Pizza International Inc. say fourth-quarter earnings rose to $4.4 million from a year-ago $3.6 million as sales increased 3.3 per cent.

But the current first quarter of 2008 will likely be challenged by various factors, including severely cold weather, the fund (TSX: BPF.UN) says.

"Boston Pizza continued to perform very well in 2007," CEO Mike Cordoba said Monday in a release. "We achieved a remarkable milestone by opening our 300th location during the fourth quarter.

"This further strengthens our position as Canada's No. 1 casual dining brand, serving more customers in more locations than any other full-service restaurant chain. We also increased same-store sales by 5.7 per cent in 2007, compared to 2006, which is a key factor in the profitability of our franchisees and also in our ability to increase monthly distributions to unit holders.

The fund increased monthly distributions to unit holders three times in 2007.

This year, BPI management plans to open 30 to 35 new locations across Canada, mostly in Quebec and elsewhere in Eastern Canada.

Earnings for the quarter ended Dec. 31 amounted to 34.3 cents per diluted unit, compared with 32.8 cents per unit a year earlier.

For the full year, earnings rose to $14.2 million or $1.131 a diluted unit, up from $14 million or $1.298 per unit in 2006.

Same-sales growth is expected to be challenged in the current first quarter as a result of comparatively strong 6.6 per cent growth a year earlier.

"In addition, a higher than normal number of locations will be closed for renovations in the quarter, and the extremely cold weather which some regions of the country have experienced in early 2008 can impact customer traffic," the company said.

The renovations are expected to have positive impact when the completed restaurants reopen.

The Boston Pizza fund is a trust established under the laws of British Columbia to acquire trademarks and trade names used by BPI in its Boston Pizza restaurants in Canada. The trademarks are licensed to BPI for 99 years, for which BPI pays the fund four per cent of franchise revenues of royalty pooled restaurants.