March 28, 2006 - (Memphis, Tenn.) The growth, maturity and success of a franchisor can often be followed like chapters in a book. For Back Yard Burgers, the Memphis-based quick-serve chain that specializes in charbroiled, freshly prepared hamburgers and chicken, a new chapter is beginning to unfold. The 173-restaurant chain was founded in 1987 by Lattimore M. Michael, a former independent grocery store owner.
With locations in 20 states, Back Yard Burgers, a publicly traded company listed on The NASDAQ Stock Market, Inc. (BYBI) has opened 66 new restaurants since the end of 2003. Systemwide sales in 2005 fell just short of $140 million, establishing a high-water mark in the company’s history and easily outdistancing 2004 sales of $113 million.
Expansion plans for 2006 include the opening of 25 new franchise locations to add to the existing 131 franchises and two company-operated restaurants to add to the current 42 company operated restaurants.
Now, almost 20 years after the company’s founding, the 63-year-old founder is planning to step aside from day-to-day operations in his current role as chairman and CEO. Michael will continue to serve as chairman, but the company has begun a search for an individual to serve in the newly combined role of president and CEO. Michael W. Myers resigned as Back Yard Burgers’ president and COO in late February. Myers had been with the company since 1999.
Joseph Weiss, a major stockholder and franchisee who served as president and COO of Back Yard Burgers from 1993-1999, is serving as interim COO until a CEO/president is named. “We feel that this is the right time for the company to combine the positions of CEO and president in one dynamic leader,” Weiss said.
“We offer a concept that is still young, and we have excellent operators in our system,” Weiss said. “We believe that the pieces are in place for our continued growth.”
While Back Yard Burgers was among the first QSR chains to introduce 100% Black Angus Beef in 2000, other chains quickly jumped on the bandwagon. Weiss said one of the responsibilities of the new president/CEO would be to find new avenues to utilize Back Yard Burgers’ strengths and reputation for quality food to differentiate itself from its competitors.
Weiss said the company is not targeting specific individuals within the franchising industry to become Back Yard Burgers’ president/CEO, but is instead looking for the “right personality that will mesh well with our products, customers, employees and franchisees.” Added Michael: “We’re looking for an individual to take us forward from where we are now.”
Having seen Back Yard Burgers evolve and grow since he opened his first double drive-thru in Mississippi almost two decades ago, Michael sees the next several years as a period of transition and evaluation that he anticipates will make the company stronger.
Weiss echoed Michael’s thoughts. “I believe this is an extremely exciting period for us,” he said. “The individual who becomes our new president/CEO will play an important role in our future growth and success.”
Forward-Looking Statements: This report contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws, including statements regarding the number of company-operated and franchised restaurants the company anticipates opening during fiscal year 2006. Forward-looking statements are based upon estimates, projections, beliefs and assumptions of management at the time of such statements and should not be viewed as guarantees of future performance. Such forward-looking information involves important risks and uncertainties that could significantly impact anticipated results in the future and, accordingly, such results may differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statements by or on behalf of the company. The factors that could cause the company’s actual results to differ materially, many of which are beyond the control of the company, include, but are not limited to, the following: delays in opening new stores or outlets because of weather, local permitting, and the availability and cost of land and construction; increases in competition and competitive discounting; increases in minimum wage and other operating costs; shortages in raw food products; volatility of commodity prices; consumer preferences, spending patterns and demographic trends; the possibility of unforeseen events affecting the industry generally, and other risks described from time to time in the company’s periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Back Yard Burgers, Inc. disclaims any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement based on the occurrence of future events, the receipt of new information, or otherwise.
View Company Website: http://www.backyardburgers.com