Chipotle planning kitchen equipment upgrades to improve service

Chipotle Mexican Grill is planning to refurbish restaurants and upgrade kitchen equipment in what is set to be a transformational year for the company as it bids to execute on its longer term goals.

The chain made some major changes around leadership, operations and strategy last year and is already beginning to see the fruits of that success in the form of 15% revenue growth to $4.5 billion (£3.2 billion) during 2017.

2018 marks the 25th year of trading for Chipotle and Steve Ells, chairman and CEO, promised that the business intends to spend big on its estate.

“Our focus this year will be to continue perfecting the dining experience, enhancing the guest experience through innovations in digital and catering, and reinvesting in our restaurants,” he commented.

Mr Ells did not indicate whether the level of investment on new catering equipment will extend to the UK, where the company runs a handful of stores, all in London.

However, he did tell investors earlier this week that it plans to add second food production lines to more restaurants in order to cope with off-premise orders, while also carrying out other catering upgrades. Additionally, Chipotle will improve training for restaurant managers and speed up service.

Chipotle opened 183 new restaurants last year, taking its portfolio to more than 2,400 units. Restaurant level operating margin grew from 12.8% to 16.9% during the year, while net profits soared from $23m (£17m) to $176m (£127m).

Mr Ells is due to step down as CEO once a replacement is appointed and become executive chairman of the business he founded. He suggested it was getting closer to identifying a successor.

“We are making good progress on our search for a new CEO who can improve execution, drive sales and enable Chipotle to realise our enormous potential,” he said.

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