Dunkin' Brands Group (DNKN) Q3 2018 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Oct. 25, 2018 1:45 PM ETDunkin' Brands Group, Inc. (DNKN)
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Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:DNKN) Q3 2018 Earnings Call October 25, 2018 8:00 AM ET

Executives

Stacey Caravella - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Nigel Travis - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Katherine Jaspon - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Scott Murphy - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Tony Weisman - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Analysts

David Palmer - RBC Capital Markets LLC

John Glass - Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC

John William Ivankoe - JPMorgan Securities LLC

Jeffrey A. Bernstein - Barclays Capital, Inc.

David E. Tarantino - Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc.

Will Slabaugh - Stephens Inc.

Gregory R. Francfort - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Matthew DiFrisco - Guggenheim Securities LLC

Sharon Zackfia - William Blair & Co. LLC

Andrew Charles - Cowen & Co.

Karen Holthouse - Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC

Matthew Robert McGinley - Evercore ISI

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Dunkin' Brands Third Quarter 2018 Earnings Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session and instructions will be provided at that time. And as a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

I'd now like to turn the conference over to Stacey Caravella, Senior Director of Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Stacey Caravella - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Thank you, operator, and good morning, everyone. Speaking on today's call will be Dunkin' Brands' Chief Executive Officer, Dave Hoffmann; Dunkin' Brands' Executive Chairman, Nigel Travis; and Dunkin' Brands' Chief Financial Officer, Kate Jaspon. Today's call is being webcast live and recorded for replay.

Before I turn the call over to Dave, I'd like to remind everyone that the language on forward-looking statements included in our earnings release also applies to our comments made during the call. Our release can be found on our website investor.dunkinbrands.com along with any reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures mentioned on the call with their corresponding GAAP measures.

Now, I'll turn the call over to Dave Hoffmann.

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Thanks, Stacey. For the third quarter of 2018, we delivered positive comparable store sales growth across all our business segments and made great progress continuing to execute the Dunkin' U.S. Blueprint for Growth. But the journey we are on is much longer than one quarter or even one year. Delivering sustainable growth and top shareholder value means we have to evolve both of our brands to be more modern and relevant to consumers, a transformation that won't happen overnight, but will be punctuated by early milestones and key wins.

To bring our vision to life, we recently hosted more than 3,500 franchisees, licensees, suppliers and employees at our first Global Convention in nearly a decade. The energy of the franchisees was unmatched by anything I've seen in my career. Their support is really a testament to the passion and commitment they have to our brands and I'm thrilled to see this unity across our system as we chart the future together. During the convention, we announced our new simplified branding and logo for Dunkin'. The new branding shows our dedication to Dunkin's beverage-led strategy.

It was a careful decision resulting from extensive testing and affection for the heritage of our 70-year-old brand. It's an exciting step into the future and a sign of the many ways Dunkin' is continuing to evolve. It's just one of many things we're doing across both brands to modernize the guest experience in our restaurants. From new restaurant designs, to menu innovation on premium products, to compelling value offerings, we are providing our guests with great beverages, perfectly paired food and unparalleled convenience.

But before I get into third quarter specifics, I'd like to touch on our strategic progress overall. Q3 marked one year since we first rolled out the Blueprint for Growth for Dunkin' U.S. And in that time, we've simplified our menu and focused on maximizing our core competencies. What we've learned is that when we deliver on our brand promise of great coffee fast, we have an unstoppable consumer proposition. We've simplified our menu to make room for more impactful product innovation, we found our collective voice on national value, which will be more predictable and stable in 2019, and we've created a Next Generation restaurant design that combines operations and technology to enable a faster restaurant experience. Quality food and beverages, wrapped in compelling value and delivered at the speed of Dunkin' is our formula for success and our future.

All right. Now moving to third quarter performance for Dunkin' U.S., Systemwide sales grew 4.6% and comparable store sales grew 1.3% in the third quarter. We had solid growth across our beverage portfolio as well as the new snacking platform that resulted in our strongest afternoon performance in two years. Cold Brew and Frozen led the growth for beverages, boosted by flavor news and continued momentum for both products from Q2. The success of Cold Brew and Frozen beverages is a meaningful achievement as we strive to grow our beverage business outside of what we're most known for: Hot and Iced Drip Coffee.

Complementing our beverage line up was the launch of the Dunkin' Run platform, a $2 snacking menu that helped drive strong afternoon sales and reinvigorate the afternoon daypart. Donut Fries kicked things off launching earlier in the quarter and quickly became one of the best-performing limited-time offer bakery items in recent brand history.

A compelling afternoon offering is not only good for our business but good for the consumer as well. We are a great option for a satisfying quick pick-me-up and we made solid progress reclaiming our spot in the afternoon during Q3. We know we still have room to grow but the success of the Dunkin' Run lays the foundation for us to compete in the afternoon. When we focus as a system on our afternoon daypart, on expanding our beverage leadership we can win. It's the recipe for success that made our snacking platform so effective this past quarter and what will enable future execution of categories such as Espresso and Frozen as well.

Now earlier this year, we announced plans to invest approximately $100 million into the Dunkin' U.S. business with about 65% of this investment allocated towards equipment that would accelerate our beverage-led strategy. We recognize the need to expand our beverage leadership beyond Hot and Iced Drip Coffee, while maintaining our core advantage of speed, quality and value. And for this reason, as we announced publicly yesterday, a significant portion of these funds will go towards new espresso equipment and revitalizing a critical, high-growth category for our business.

Espresso beverages perform well all day, particularly in the afternoon, they skew younger from a consumer standpoint and are a natural next step in pursuit of our beverage-led strategy. In total, alignment with our franchisees who are investing substantial dollars of their own into this initiative, we are installing new espresso equipment in every restaurant across the entire Dunkin' U.S. system. The upgraded equipment enables better bean extraction to produce a richer espresso flavor that we believe is best in quality in the market. We are gearing up for a complete national relaunch for the holiday season, which will be one of the most transformative product unveilings in our history.

With the new state-of-the-art equipment, a new flavor, new packaging and extensive restaurant training, we will be able to serve handcrafted great-tasting lattes, cappuccinos and more. We think it's a value proposition that Dunkin' is uniquely positioned to own. We know in this competitive environment no one wakes up wondering where they can get a latte but where we stand out is our ability to now deliver best-in-class quality espresso beverages at a good value, served at the speed of Dunkin'. That is great coffee fast and what our Blueprint is all about.

Where the Blueprint truly comes to life is in our Next Generation restaurant. There was tremendous enthusiasm coming out of the convention for our new store from its more modern look and feel to its state-of-the-art equipment and focus on technology. To date, we now have more than 60 new and remodeled NextGen restaurants across the country and that's ahead of our initial target of 50 that we shared back at our Investor Day this past February. Together with feedback from our franchisees, we've been iterating on the design as we go and are on track to release a scalable model to the system in early 2019.

All right. Moving on to development. Dunkin' U.S. franchisees opened 52 net new restaurants and completed 31 remodels during the quarter. As we focus on expansion, we remain on track for 90% of our net development to come from outside our core markets. We are also encouraged to see cash-on-cash returns continue to be in the 20% to 25% range for the 2017 cohort of new restaurants opened in our top 10 development markets, all of which are outside of our core. We look forward to providing full year results for the 2017 cohort next year. We know Dunkin' can thrive in emerging markets and our refreshed branding and new line of espresso beverages will contribute to this success as well.

When we talk about super convenience at Dunkin', we are also focused on expanding the reach of our brand through consumer-packaged goods. In Q3, we leveraged our strong partnership with Coke and its tremendous bottler network to introduce two new products to keep consumers everywhere running on Dunkin'. First, we added the new Pumpkin Spice flavor to our growing line of ready-to-drink iced coffee beverages. We also launched Shot in the Dark, an espresso-based very coffee forward beverage that perfectly complements our in-store espresso revitalization strategy. We believe these new products will build our coffee credentials as we grow our footprint in markets outside the core.

So let me close by saying, right now with this team and our world-class franchisees, we have what it takes to succeed. 2018 has been a foundational year for the implementation of our Blueprint for Growth. It's been a deliberate sequencing of events that started with menu simplification, national value and afternoon snacking platform and our rebranding as well, including our revitalized espresso offering. All of this brought together under our Next Generation restaurant. But as we work with our franchisees to implement the Blueprint and modernize the Dunkin' experience, what hasn't changed is our commitment to great coffee fast.

Okay. Now on to Baskin. In Q3, Baskin-Robbins U.S. comparable store sales grew 1.8%. Growth was primarily driven by beverages and take-home packaged ice cream. The beverage category has been a consistent focus for Baskin, achieving a mid-single digits sales growth, driven by a mix of established products such as smoothies as well as new product innovations within the shake lineup. Our goal is to make enjoying Baskin a more accessible part of everyday life, by focusing on growing delivery as well as sales of our take-home packaged ice cream, which, by the way, has seen sales increases during six of the last seven quarters.

Regarding delivery, we have grown our partnership with DoorDash, who now cover over 70% of BR stores across the U.S. We are pleased with the consumer response to this option with delivery orders on average carrying a ticket that is 50% higher than that of the restaurant. As I mentioned previously, Baskin-Robbins is developing a NextGen store design as well with the first concept slated to open in Fresno, California over the next few weeks. The new store design offers a more modern and relevant experience for our guests and showcases our products in a more premium way. We displayed this new store design to our franchisees at our recent convention and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. So, we're thrilled with where that's headed right now.

And with that, I will now turn the call over to Nigel to cover International.

Nigel Travis - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Thank you very much. Congratulations on great progress against the Blueprint in particular. Our International franchisees and licensees left the convention in September extremely energized. It is the first convention that many of them had the opportunity to attend and I believe they left with good insight into both the size and scope of Dunkin' Brands and the opportunity they had to continue to grow with us.

Our International brands serve as our hub of innovation, always driving new concepts, fast scaling and showing us what's next. And delivery is an example of this, leading the way for the U.S. with tests underway in a number of key international markets across the two brands. Looking forward, I believe that delivery could be as transformative as the drive-thru was to the QSR industry.

During the quarter, we continued our work to stabilize International and focused on driving traffic through value offerings, seasonal product innovation and digital technologies. Part of stabilizing International is bringing more markets under some of our larger franchisee group. It's a much more effective business model for both brands outside the U.S. and it enables more consistent performance.

And as Dave referenced earlier, all of our businesses are well underway, and developing new store formats. Dunkin' International now has 90 newly designed restaurants in 11 markets outside the USA, including our flagship store in Thailand that opened in Q3. The new store features Dunkin' Thailand's first drive-thru and offers seating on two floors. It's the largest Dunkin' store with a drive-thru in Asia-Pacific.

Before I turn the call over to Kate, as this will be my last earnings call, I'd like to thank all of our analysts and investors. From our IPO to the present, you've been incredibly supportive and more importantly challenging in your approach to our company. You have pushed us to think deeper and sometimes differently as we prepare for the future. We feel that we have responded with strong consistent shareholder returns. And in my ongoing role as Chairman, I look forward to the future with true optimism for Dunkin' Brands under Dave's strong leadership.

Now, I will turn it over to Kate to cover our financial results.

Katherine Jaspon - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Thanks, Nigel. Revenues for the third quarter increased nearly $20 million or 6% compared to the prior-year period, due primarily to increased advertising fees and related income as well as an increase in royalty income resulting from systemwide sales growth. Operating income and adjusted operating income for the third quarter increased $6.3 million or 6% and $5.7 million or 5.2% respectively from the prior-year period primarily as a result of the increase in royalty income, offset by an increase in G&A expense, due primarily to expenses related to our Global Convention, which was held during the quarter.

Net income and adjusted net income for the third quarter increased by nearly $25 million or approximately 61% and just over $25 million or approximately 56%. These increases were primarily due to a decrease in income tax expense and the increases in operating and adjusted operating income, offset by an increase in net interest expense which was driven by additional borrowings from our refinancing during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017.

The decrease in income tax expense was primarily driven by rolling over a nearly $9 million write-down of foreign tax credit carry-forwards in the prior-year period, as well as excess tax benefits from share-based compensation of nearly $7.5 million in the current year period. Income tax expense also benefited from a lower tax rate as the result of tax reform.

For the third quarter, GAAP diluted earnings per share increased by 75.6% to $0.79 and diluted adjusted earnings per share increased 69.4% to $0.83, compared to the prior-year period. Both was a result of increases in net income and adjusted net income as well as a decrease in shares outstanding. The decrease in shares outstanding was due primarily to the repurchase of shares since the beginning of Q3 2017, offset by the exercise of stock options. Excluding the impact of recognized excess tax benefits, both diluted earnings per share and diluted adjusted earnings per share would have been lower by approximately $0.09 and $0.01 for the Q3 2018 and Q3 2017 periods respectively.

At the end of the third quarter, we had a debt-to-adjusted EBITDA ratio of 5.2 to 1. During the quarter, we generated approximately $57 million in free cash flow. We ended the quarter with $428 million in unrestricted cash on the balance sheet. Of that $428 million, $132 million represents cash associated with our gift card and marketing funds balances. We used $29 million in cash during the quarter to pay our Q3 cash dividend to our shareholders. We are also pleased that we have completed our previously announced $650 million accelerated share repurchase programs during the third quarter, demonstrating our continued commitment to utilizing our strong balance sheet to return capital to our shareholders.

As described in our press release this morning, we are reiterating and updating certain of our 2018 performance targets. We continue to expect approximately 1% comp store sales growth for Dunkin' U.S. and low-single-digit comp sales growth for Baskin-Robbins U.S. We continue to expect the Dunkin' U.S. franchisees to add greater than 275 net new restaurants in fiscal 2018.

We now expect low to mid-single-digit percent growth in other revenue. Previously, we had expected high-single-digit growth. This revision was primarily driven by the fact that a few of our consumer-packaged goods hit the retail shelves later than we had originally planned. But ultimately, we are very confident in the long-term growth prospects for our overall consumer-packaged goods portfolio. In fact, on a 52-week basis, retail sales of our CPG products remained strong, up 11% versus last year.

We continue to expect low- to mid-single-digit revenue growth. We continue to expect ice cream margin dollars to be flat when compared to fiscal 2017 from a profit dollar standpoint. We continue to expect a low-single-digit reduction to G&A expense. We continue to expect mid-single-digit operating and adjusted operating income growth. And we continue to expect full-year weighted average shares outstanding of approximately 85 million. We now expect an effective tax rate of approximately 23%. This updated tax rate guidance reflects the impact from excess tax benefits recorded in the third quarter, but excludes any potential future impact from material excess tax benefits that may occur during the fourth quarter of 2018.

We now expect GAAP diluted earnings per share of $2.60 to $2.64. Previously we had expected $2.48 to $2.56. And now expect diluted adjusted earnings per share of $2.80 to $2.82. Previously we had expected $2.68 to $2.72. This updated guidance reflects the realized excess tax benefits in Q3 and also tightens our range as we enter into the fourth quarter. EPS guidance also excludes any potential future impact from material excess tax benefits. Lastly, we continue to expect capital expenditures for the year will be approximately $45 million to $50 million.

And with that, I will turn it over to the operator to open the call for Q&A.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Thank you. Our first question comes from David Palmer with RBC Capital Markets. Your line is now open.

David Palmer - RBC Capital Markets LLC

Thanks. Good morning. Just two questions if I may. On the NextGen reimaging, you noticed or you said that things would scale up in early 2019 and that you'd have a scalable investment per unit by then. Any color on that would be helpful. And then with regard to traffic growth, I know it's been elusive for almost everyone in fast food. And even the value out there seems to be bundles that are driving more check than traffic, do you think traffic growth might be in sight for 2019? And if so, how are you going to get there? Thanks.

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yes. Thanks, David for those. Let me work backwards on these on – as it relates to traffic and transactions, we're very similar to others in the industry. It's the primary focus of the Blueprint. But to your point when we have both food value and beverage innovation working for us together, and that's the key point together at the same time, we're pretty tough to beat in the marketplace. Q3 was another quarter where we did see sequential improvement. We're still not pleased with where we need to be, but it was another quarter of sequential improvement. And during the quarter, the Dunkin' Run snack menu and our Sip. Peel. Win. game were some of the biggest contributors for the quarter.

And I'd say the last thing, and I know this has been a topic that you've been beating the drum on. As it relates to value in Q3, we found some magic with Go2s in Q2. We wanted to do more testing, a lot of testing on various platforms and iterations in Q3. And as a result, we've landed on a construct that we believe is going to be right for us going forward and you'll see when I talk about a more stable and predictable way that that will be laid out in 2019, I think you'll see that going forward. So that's on transactions and what we're doing around value.

In terms of NextGen and some color around that. Look, we're on a journey with our franchisees. We're excited about the enthusiasm that came out of the convention. I think you'd see that reflected in the numbers where we've outpaced our commitment on that. But again, it continues to be working with the franchisees to cost engineer this to get to that scalable model in Q1. We clearly know it's transformational. We're pleased with the progress, we're pleased with the results. It embodies everything that's on the Blueprint. But again, this is something that we do in partnership with the franchisees and we continue to iterate on that cost. So, that's why Q1 or in that early 2019 is the timeframe that we would be looking to release that system-wide.

David Palmer - RBC Capital Markets LLC

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from John Glass with Morgan Stanley. Your line is now open.

John Glass - Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC

Thanks and good morning. Dave, you mentioned a couple of times that you're pleased with the afternoon business and that was a weak spot earlier. But the aggregate comps in the U.S. didn't improve sequentially. So does that imply the AM business was weaker maybe? Sort of give us some updated color around the AM versus PM business. And you've got like, a 60 or so of the remodeled stores, I've got one across the street from here in my office. What is the product mix difference? Or what are you seeing are early days on how people respond differently, mix or overall transactions in those early remodels?

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yeah. Thanks, John. On the AM daypart, AM and PM were both in line with all day comps. Q3, we got some – like I said, we got some good momentum outside the morning daypart in the Dunkin' Run. Laid the foundation for great pairings, especially as we move towards an upcoming Espresso relaunch. And for the AM, we think there's a lot more upside as we zero in on our long-term value construct that I just mentioned. In Q3, again, we tested various iterations of this. We're on a journey with our franchisees to get this right.

And in 2019, I think, you're going to see a more stable predictable offer. It won't stray far from what we're doing now with our one-two punch of 2 for $5 on the croissant sandwiches that we got in the marketplace today, along with the pulsating Happy Hour offers. But again, we're very pleased with the progress we're making in the afternoon and we continue to win in the morning as well, and we think when we do both food value and beverage innovation together at the same time, we think we're tough to beat. And so we're feeling good about where we are with both dayparts. And on NextGen, I'm going to kick it over to Scott Murphy on this one.

Scott Murphy - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Thanks Dave, and thanks John for the question. If I think about the NextGen stores, probably four things that I'm most interested in. One is, sort of the growth we're seeing in iced beverages in those restaurants. So if you've been in that restaurant across from your office, you'd notice the eight-headed tap system that has Cold Brew, Nitro and all of our other iced beverages. So, we're seeing some nice growth out of that category. The second would be Espresso. You saw our announcement yesterday, but really in the NextGen store is where it comes to life, with the lower front line, people can see the new equipment and the entire espresso experience. Lots of good theater there and we're seeing growth in that category.

The third one would be donuts. So, we've actually moved the bakery case upfront. So, when folks come in, they can really see all of our bakery items right there and we're seeing some nice growth in that category. And then the final thing I'd say is, it's really exciting for mobile, for on-the-go orders. So, everything about that store with the technology and the layout is set up to drive growth in on-the-go orders and we're seeing that in a big way.

John Glass - Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC

Okay. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from John Ivankoe with JPMorgan. Your line is now open.

John William Ivankoe - JPMorgan Securities LLC

Hi. Thank you. I was wondering that simplification you've achieved, I think one of its goals in terms of speeding up some of the drive-thru times, speeding up some of the execution times. It's the first point. And then secondly and related to that, talk about the labor environment that your franchisees are seeing. I mean, you're so late stage in terms of the employment recovery, labor gets more expensive, turnover can go up, sometimes we don't see the quality again this year that we may have seen in a couple of years from a staffing perspective. But to what extent are your franchisees telling you that the labor market might in and of itself be a reason that the comps aren't coming in stronger?

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yeah. Let me jump on simplification again, John. We're very pleased with what we did there strategically. I think you heard me use the line, a bit of short-term pain for long-term gain. Part of that was to create room for growth on the innovation side. And so that's all for Tony and the team to reposition us as a beverage-led on-the-go brand, so we've been pleased with that journey.

And then, as it relates to faster, we don't give out many things in this area, but look, even as you look at some of the external third-party surveys and things like that, we know we're getting faster and it's all part of our strategy around great coffee fast. So, we are very pleased and our franchisees are as well with our simplification efforts not only in terms of repositioning the brand, creating room for growth but what we're seeing on operational improvements around speed as well.

On the labor side, look, staffing continues to be the franchisees' number one challenge. It's a reflection of a strong economy that's out there. And rather than belabor that, we're really focused internally on creating a great people culture in the restaurants and look that's everything from hire for smiles to proper training, to flexible work environment, to just an overall good experience for the employees in the restaurants.

But look, staffing is on the minds of the franchisees. I think, it's one of the headwinds that we're facing across the board. And I think as you look at operators continuing to develop and grow, we've got some great tailwinds with really good cash-on-cash returns in the marketplace. And I like what we're seeing out of not only that, but also strong enthusiasm out of the convention in terms of the commitment to the NextGen restaurants.

But I would say that the biggest headwind that we're facing right now is staffing, and again I know that's weighing on the franchisees' mind, so we're just trying to focus on what we can do internally to offset some of these cross currents.

John William Ivankoe - JPMorgan Securities LLC

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Jeffrey Bernstein with Barclays. Your line is now open.

Jeffrey A. Bernstein - Barclays Capital, Inc.

Great. Thank you very much. Two questions. One, Dave, you talked a lot about the convention and it sounds like it was quite bullish from a franchisee perspective. Just wondering, as we hear more from restaurants and others about rising interest rates and construction costs, both of them would seem to be a negative for accelerating new unit franchisee growth, which is the plan for you at Dunkin'.

So I'm just wondering, first question, if you could just talk about the confidence in accelerating that U.S. unit growth in 2019 and 2020. Especially in 2019, if it sounds like the NextGen roll-out won't happen until early in the year. I'm not sure whether your confidence is based primarily on the pipeline, commitments or franchise sentiment, or whatnot, but just trying to get a sense for that and perhaps how the higher interest rates impacting your own corporate thoughts with your elevated leverage.

Another question was just on remodels, I'm just wondering, seems like your QSR peers are talking more about aggressive remodel plans, occasionally with some corporate support. So I'm just wondering if you can provide an update on your timeframe for the complete NextGen roll-out and whether there's a way to maybe incentivize franchisees to accelerate that rate. Thanks.

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yeah. Thanks, Jeff. On the first one, on the enthusiasm out of the convention and some of these headwinds that you mentioned and I would throw staffing in there as well as one of those. But, you know what, we've had a real vigilant focus on quality over quantity and we remain committed to that.

We're not coming off any guidance. We still feel good about where we are over our three-year journey. We like what we're seeing out of our cash-on-cash returns and the uptake on the NextGen restaurant. I think you know we've paused on some of the remodels and we held some of those back so that we have a lot of pent-up demand.

But I would say, the one thing that we are working extremely hard on is making sure that we've got the right cost engineering program that can be scaled. So that's why we do the 50 or we're up over 60 now in terms of projects and working collaboratively with the franchisees to make sure that we've got that cost in an area where it can be scalable.

But, look, there's a lot of enthusiasm right now to continue to push and grow in the core. You're going to see it be more of a remodel asset optimization strategy here, putting on more convenience types of items like drive-thrus, et cetera. So any time we do that we win on these remodels.

And then, in terms of new store development, I would say, these circles where we've built really good pipelines over the years, the Midwest and the Southeast, those are great fill-ins for us as we continue to push West. But we're feeling really good about where we are in terms of growth, but also remodels as well. And so, I think, the convention, it was all focused on NextGen and we feel good about the enthusiasm coming out of that.

Katherine Jaspon - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

And Jeff, this is Kate. On the leverage and the lending perspective. First of all, I'll take the corporate one. From a debt perspective, we've got a tranche of about $1.7 billion that comes due in February of 2022, but it's callable at par in February of 2019. We benefit from a great interest rate on that of just below 4% and we continue to watch what interest rates are doing and so do our franchisees.

And although, interest rates appear to be ticking up, we're watching the forward yield curve as well as the banks and working with both the franchisees, lenders, as well as our own to monitor what's in our best interest to balance out the interest risk.

On the corporate side, we can get back into the market as soon as February at zero – with no penalty to ourselves, but we have until 2022 to actually refinance or do something with that tranche. And then, just to highlight what we do with our franchisees. They're obviously in charge of their own lending, but we do have a great lending program where we work with the banks that typically lend to our franchisees.

And Dave's team will actually present the NextGen model, so it's a plan for constant growth for the business, so the banks are very comfortable with our business models and then when the franchisees need to refinance, they just approach with their own personal financials and many of them have their own CFOs and financial experts that are helping them also watch the interest rates and determine when it's best for them to finance. But as of right now lending is not an issue for our franchisees.

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

And Jeff, the other thing that was on your question was around an incentive. We have no plans at this point to put an incentive in place to juice new stores or remodels. We've got enough pent-up demand. We've got enough contractual obligations in there that we've got good visibility into 2019 and we don't see a reason to incentivize this.

The $100 million that we did invest in the business as you know was all around positioning the brand for beverage-led and we're pleased with that investment. And that's what we're looking at as our investment into the business, and so nothing around the incentive though.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from David Tarantino with Baird. Your line is now open.

David E. Tarantino - Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc.

Hi. Good morning. Just a couple questions. I wanted a clarification on comps. I think last quarter you mentioned that the menu simplification was about 100 basis point headwind on comps. Could you just maybe update us on where that stands for Q3? Was that continuing to be a headwind? And then a second question is on the NextGen prototype, I think, your prior remarks suggest that that would be available and scalable by the end this year and now you're talking early 2019. So it's maybe not a big difference but just wondering whether that process has been delayed? And what needs to be done in order to validate that scalable model. Is it more of the cost engineering or something else that you're working on? Thanks.

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yes. David, thanks for that. I'm going to kick it over to Scott on the NextGen piece. But just on the simplification piece, you can safely say, it's less than 100 basis points. But there's still is a headwind but it's dwindling, but we don't give out anything more than that, but you can see it continue to shrink as we go throughout the year.

Scott Murphy - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

And I would just add, NextGen, there's nothing wrong with the process. We've actually opened more than we thought. And what's interesting is each one is a little different because we continue to iterate and learn. And what was really important for us was to actually have these open across the country in different markets with different product mixes to make sure each of the components would work.

We have them as freestanding end-cap in-line. We actually have some drive-thru only, we've got some double drive-thrus, so we wanted to have as many of the different formats opened to learn from it and that they could be showrooms for our franchisees to go out look, feel, and touch in their markets.

And then as Dave mentioned, really now as we lock in on the design elements, it's about the value engineering effort to make sure the return is proper for our franchisees and then building the supply chain for all the components, equipment and material, so that once we press go, we are really ready to go.

David E. Tarantino - Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc.

And one quick follow-up on that. When you say you're trying to get the returns in the proper place for franchisees are you trying to improve the returns relative to what they have now? Or are you trying to maintain the returns?

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

You can safely say that we're pleased with our cash-on cash returns. So, in line with those, and I think, look, I believe we can even do better than that. I mean, we aim to improve on those, but we're pleased with where our cash-on-cash is today and we think that's right in line with where we want NextGen to be as well.

David E. Tarantino - Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc.

Great. Thank you very much.

Operator

Thank you. And our next question comes from Will Slabaugh with Stephens. Your line is now open.

Will Slabaugh - Stephens Inc.

Thank you, guys. I had a question on the afternoon, so I assume the food sales mix is higher and we're up year-over-year just given your comments earlier. Could you talk about the beverage performance in the afternoon and kind of how you view that? And what the opportunities there might be to help improve that as well? And then at the same time, you mentioned both morning and afternoon were positive or somewhat similarly positive. Are you seeing any evidence that there is a bit of a trade-off where if a customer comes in a store in the afternoon they may be less likely to visit in the morning? Thank you.

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yeah. Thanks for that, Will. You are spot on in terms of performance of food in the afternoon. And look this was – as you've heard me say on the blueprint before kind of a strategic plan. We don't always telegraph exactly what we're doing here, but a strategic sequencing of putting the Dunkin' Run menu in place prior to the Espresso launch here in Q4. So, that was the intent. We are seeing a really good uptake in terms of our afternoon beverages. We've got a strong frozen offering. And I think, you saw us really juice that and market that over the summer and that carried into Q3 as well. And we felt like Espresso was – in our portfolio today was the one piece that was missing in terms of complementing that. So we like the Dunkin' Run, we're going to continue the use that as a platform to introduce new snacking offerings, because we think those items pair well with our coffee portfolio. So, that's on that end. And then, Will, your second question was?

Will Slabaugh - Stephens Inc.

Right, do you see any evidence of a trade-off, if a customer comes in the afternoon, either they're more or less likely to visit in the morning?

Tony Weisman - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

No. It's Tony. No, we didn't see that. And where we finally have an offering, as Dave mentioned, with the Dunkin' Run, giving them a reason to want to come back to the place that they know they could get a great coffee fast. And you've heard us say that the Donut Fries are among the most popular bakery LCOs (41:28) we've ever done. So, no, we didn't see a trade-off, we didn't see them making a choice, we just saw them choosing to comeback in the afternoon, now that we have something for them that paired well with the beverages.

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yeah. And if I could just underscore couple of things in there, Will, I would say our loyalists continue to be extremely strong. The name of the game right now is converting those switchers in the marketplace. And that's what Tony's – a lot of his strategy is around going after those switchers, so those are the ones. The loyalists were not seen any kind of binary, if they buy in the afternoon, they don't buy in the morning. That continues to be consistent for us as it has been for a number of years. But really it's the switchers that we're going after and then turning those into loyalists as well.

Will Slabaugh - Stephens Inc.

Great. Thank you.

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Thanks.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Gregory Francfort with Bank of America. Your line is now open.

Gregory R. Francfort - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Hey, guys. Just on the NextGen remodels. What are you seeing in terms of the benefit? Is it in terms of sales lift, is it in terms of labor mix or costs? Any metrics around that would be helpful.

Scott Murphy - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yeah. Hey, Greg. This is Scott. So we're not ready to release the actual numbers that you might imagine. But all those metrics are the ones we're tracking and we're seeing improvements across them all, so sales traffic, as well as the labor efficiency that we're working on with our franchisees.

Gregory R. Francfort - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

And then just on the new Espresso platform. I mean, clearly, it's a big deal. But how do you expect it to boost the business? Is it going to be primarily customer acquisition? Is it going to be frequency? Do you expect it to be an average check driver? Where do you expect it to sort of benefit sales the most?

Tony Weisman - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Well, hey, it's Tony. And I think really it's all of the above. We know that the Espresso platform is responding to where the market growth is. Espresso beverages have a very high projected continued growth. Number one beverages among Millennials. So, for us, it's a combination of giving a loyalist a great espresso product that in some cases they've been going elsewhere for and then bringing the folks into our already latte, cappuccino, Americano lovers into our restaurants and putting it in their consideration set.

And that applies particularly to younger consumers. We know that lattes, for example, are the gateway into the caffeine profile for a lot of teens and young adults. It's like the number one beverage among Millennials. And so we do see a lot of them coming to us going forward as we put this fabulous product at a great value at the speed that Dunkin' has been proud of.

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yeah. And Gregory, it's a great question. I would just say as we talk here internally again the killer app for us in this space is we had to put the new machines in to get best in quality in the marketplace espresso. You combine that with a better price than what you're going to find in the marketplace with number three the speed of Dunkin', and that's the whole piece.

When you get those three right, that's our unique proposition. So, like we said nobody's waking up wondering where they can get a latte, or where can you get a good latte at a compelling price at the speed of Dunkin', that's the killer app for us and that's what we believe is going to make this unique in this area.

Gregory R. Francfort - Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Matthew DiFrisco with Guggenheim. Your line is now open.

Matthew DiFrisco - Guggenheim Securities LLC

Thank you. I just had a question on – bookkeeping question and then also just a follow-up to one of the other cash flow questions. Did you guys disclose what the digital percentage of sales were? And I just wonder how you sort of view that in being the on-the-go brand versus some of your peers? Are you a little disappointed with mobile-only being still 3% of sales and not pushing higher?

And then can you put into context the free cash flow comments for the overall existing base. I know, some of your peers with the wage pressure that's out there have said that year-over-year cash flow per store is down for the franchisees. Could you put that into some perspective? Thank you.

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yeah. I'll take the digital one here, Matthew. And look, Perks right now, you got the percentage right, we're at 12% of sales trend, mobile over and pay on-the-go is still at 3% of transactions. Our run rate this year is on par with prior years. So, we've added year-to-date about 1.4 million new users to the Perks platform.

The overall topline though is digital continues to be a key driver for our brand, promise of great coffee fast, so we're very focused on this. And I think, you've heard me say this before in previous calls, our digital strategy in the past started to become too much of a coupon machine and wasn't building true loyalty. We brought in a new Head of Digital, Stephanie Meltzer-Paul, who was one of the architects on Starwood to help us with the loyalty aspects of Perks.

And look our last quarter announcement bringing CardFree in-house was step one to gain greater control. And going forward our approach is going to be one where you're going to see us expand the user base.

But again it's all part of this very sequential thoughtful piece of the business, but look this is going to be a key unlock for great coffee fast in that fast piece. And all of that said we still believe and we're very confident that we have the best-in-class mobile app – mobile order and pay app out there in the industry and really it's all about trial and awareness for us. But when you get that trial and awareness, it's a real unlock for the consumers.

So, again you're going to start seeing that loyal piece get propped up, but we haven't taken any step backs in terms of the run rate, in terms of what we've added, in terms of new users. What they're looking for is the convenience and the ease of our app and our loyalty and our program rather than just being a coupon machine, which doesn't really build loyalty.

Scott Murphy - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

And for the question on franchisee cash flows. Obviously, we don't give the details on those numbers, but what I'd say if I think about the performance of the restaurants, essentially neutral year-over-year, we've seen some recent upticks as you might imagine in COGS and labor especially given some of those headwinds, but overall relatively stable year-over-year.

Matthew DiFrisco - Guggenheim Securities LLC

Okay. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Sharon Zackfia from William Blair. Your line is now open.

Sharon Zackfia - William Blair & Co. LLC

Hi, good morning. I just had a clarifying question and then a separate question. So, I think earlier you mentioned that traffic did accelerate in the third quarter despite the comp being relatively stable at Dunkin' U.S. I guess, I wasn't clear what happened on ticket, I assume that might be something to do with Dunkin' Run or the value message, but if you could clarify that?

And then secondarily on delivery, are you finding that that's beverage-led delivery or donut-led delivery, is it catering, small order, big order, could you give us any kind of color on what you're seeing on delivery?

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yeah. On transactions you're right. In Q3, we saw sequential improvement in traffic throughout the quarter. And look as I mentioned, AM and PM were both in line with all-day comps. I'd say the biggest thing for us coming out of Q2 where we found magic with go-tos, we're on a long-term journey with our franchisees on making sure that we got the value construct right. So, we did a lot of testing on value in Q3. We think we've landed on what we believe is right for our business. And it's going to look a lot like, again the one-two punch is food value with beverage innovation, when both of those are working together at the same time, we do extremely well. So, that's on the traffic piece of it, and then in terms of delivery...

Scott Murphy - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yeah, I think, on delivery we're seeing the orders look a lot like menu on an individual basis beverage-led, individual. We've been partnering, as you know, with a variety of delivery partners trying to figure out who the best one is and what provides the best consumer experience. You mentioned catering; we think there is upside there to mimic more of the way the pattern the industry is going. And so we have some opportunity to drive awareness of catering through delivery as well, but at the moment in tends to more mimic individual beverage-led order.

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

And Sharon I'd say the other thing is as Nigel mentioned in his opening, International is sort of the hub of innovation for us, so they're making a lot of advances on delivery right now. So is Baskin here in the U.S. I think you've heard my scripted comments that the delivery with DoorDash has got about a 70% coverage rate. The existing Baskin portfolio here in the U.S., the check is about 50% greater than the in-store check.

So we're looking at what's going on internationally in BR U.S. to pursue delivery within Dunkin'. But as Tony mentioned, you could probably safely assume catering is going to be the primary focus for us. And we think that occasion and that need state of us in the morning for meeting such as this right now that we're in here where you can have Dunkin' delivered at the speed of Dunkin' and have the great quality products for a meeting like this that's where we think we can win and play in delivery space.

Sharon Zackfia - William Blair & Co. LLC

Thank you.

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Thanks.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Andrew Charles with Cowen. Your line is now open.

Andrew Charles - Cowen & Co.

Great. Thank you. Based on what you saw in these testing of Espresso, was the revamped Espresso product with the customer behind that, was it more trade up amongst existing guests? Or is it new guests coming into the brand. And if it is the latter, can we think of Espresso as a tool to really help spur increase Perks and OTG users to the brand?

Scott Murphy - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yeah. So, this is Scott. I'll start and then Tony you can chime in here.

Tony Weisman - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yeah.

Scott Murphy - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

I think when we look at our Baltimore test where we tested this, we actually saw both, we saw not only trade up, but more importantly we saw new customers coming in both (51:45) Espresso. And as we think about our relaunch of this towards the holiday season, a lot of the messaging externally will be about driving that additional traffic in. And as Dave says, if we can do it at the speed of Dunkin' and the mobile app and Perks is certainly a big part of that. That is the holy grail for us.

Tony Weisman - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yeah. I think customers are so used to associating us with Hot and Iced Drip Coffee and they've got a routine for us around that. What we really found was that they felt relatively surprised we were in Espresso and a real delight that we were providing them with espresso based drinks that are as good as they could get anywhere in the market at a good value quickly. So it was consistent with their get-in get-out, get-on-your-way experience of Dunkin'. So, net primarily newer customers who had already had their favorite places for these beverages discovering that we were making it easy for them to get their favorite beverages quickly.

Andrew Charles - Cowen & Co.

Thanks.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Karen Holthouse with Goldman Sachs. Your line is now open.

Karen Holthouse - Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC

Hi. One quick housekeeping question, which is just what was price across the system in the quarter. And then with the commentary on afternoon, Cold and Frozen would imply that drip coffees or sort of core drip coffee business was a little bit softer this quarter. How should we be thinking about that in terms of trade up versus share losses and to the extent it's the latter, do you have a view on where that share might be going? Thanks.

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Why don't you do the prices and I will do...

Katherine Jaspon - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Karen, this is Kate. So we haven't given the comp rate down in quite a while, but I think Dave mentioned traffic sequentially improved slightly, so you can imagine what that means on total price. So I'd say, just don't underestimate the contribution that mix has made particularly as we've grown some of these offerings and the Go2s. So we're not going to give a price other than to say that we're comfortable with it. We feel like our franchisees have a handle on it and understand where they can take price and when they can take price.

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yeah. And on drip coffee, Karen I think lot of your underlying assumptions are pretty good. Look, we're still the number one seller of drip coffee. Choice is going to play a big part of this going forward. Under the blueprint it's – again, when we talk about sequential ways of laying this out, we know we're going to have to expand our choice on drip coffee. We do it better than anyone else in the marketplace, but it's under assault from a lot of discount players. It still works extremely hard for us. We felt like the first step though was to get into espresso in a big way.

But I think in 2019 you'll see us come back. Not just from a marketing standpoint, but when I talk about choice, Original Blend works really hard for us. We think other blends can as well, and Dark Roast and we think there's a whole host of things that our consumers are looking for as it relates to the great quality coffee that we do. But again, it's probably going to be more of a game of choice. And sometimes equipment is the unlock for that. But for the time being, we're still doing well with drip coffee, but we feel like espresso now is the gateway for the younger generation. But in 2019, you'll see us come back and really do some innovation around drip coffee, but more to come on that.

Karen Holthouse - Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC

Okay. Great. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. And our final question will come from Matt McGinley with Evercore ISI. Your line is now open.

Matthew Robert McGinley - Evercore ISI

Thank you. On the change in the other revenue guidance, I know that you said was more related to the timing of new product, but it seems it's getting more competitive to get shelf space in that arena. The new products – or do you need new products to grow in that – and in those other revenues? And do commodity prices present as a headwind to you at all in those other revenues? And from a store closure standpoint, you've had a modest uptick in the rate of closures this year. And obviously if a restaurant isn't making money, it shouldn't stay open, but is there any other common theme or attribute either from a format or a geographic standpoint in the closures that you have had this year?

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yeah. Let me work backwards on those Matt. On the closures, you can read into heavily the comment about we're really focused on quality over quantity, and so where we can be opportunistic and accelerate some closures, these might be smaller sites, they are off strategy, they're not part of our new brand positioning. We don't think they give the right customer experience. We may be more opportunistic in a particular quarter. And look, it's not a big piece, but we had a chance to do that in Q3 as it relates to closures. And then on the second piece as it relates to other revenues.

Katherine Jaspon - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Yeah. I think your question was around, are we seeing challenges, and I would say, no, I will let Dave comment on this. I mean, we have great partnerships we mentioned with Coke this quarter, late in the quarter we launched Shot in the Dark which is our first beverage in a can I think, you'll see that grow in the fourth quarter. We've been able to roll out new flavors on our RTD offer and then our partnership with J.M. Smucker on K-Cups continues to grow.

Your question around do we feel commodity impacts through that line, the way that those contracts work are more like licensing deals and so of the cost of the product and the build of the product are being handled by our partners in CPG and then those contracts are structured such that we make a licensing percentage off of what sells through the channel, so no.

The other thing is just, as a reminder, as that category continues to grow, we'll continue to add to that. We are sharing 50% of that with our franchisees, so our franchisees continues to see growth to their bottom line from the CPG category as well. And the commentary on taking down the guidance was just that it was timing and we expect that those categories will continue to grow and just a reminder taking that guide from a high single-digit growth to a low to mid single-digit growth as that's been a couple of million dollars to our overall P&L. We just wanted to call it out because it was a change in guidance.

Matthew Robert McGinley - Evercore ISI

Okay. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. And with that, I'd like to turn the conference back over to Mr. Hoffman for closing remarks.

David L. Hoffmann - Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.

Okay. Thank you, and thanks everyone for being on the call. Look, I just wanted to say 2018, as we've continued to say has been a foundational year for Dunkin'. It's been a tremendous year of progress for all the Dunkin' Brands. We invested $100 million into the Dunkin' U.S. business. We've developed NextGen restaurants across all of our segments. On the sustainability front, where we have transitioned out of foam cups, we've hired an entire new slate of ad agencies, we completed a really comprehensive rebranding effort for Dunkin' and we got into national value for the first time ever. We introduced new afternoon products on the Dunkin' Run menu all while implementing the simplified menu in Q1 as well as, as Kate just mentioned here, innovative products on the CPG side.

So, look, you can put this into, as well as Nigel's comments about this all culminated with really a drama free hand off between Nigel and I and a convention where the franchisees are enthused and excited about where we are going with the Blueprint, not only on the Dunkin' side, but on the Baskin side as well. And we didn't have a convention for nearly a decade.

So I say all of this because right now with this team and our world-class franchisees, we have what it takes to succeed. And so, we're excited about our future and we appreciate all of what you guys do to follow us going forward. And so, again, thanks for being on the call. Take care, everyone.

Operator

Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen that does conclude today's conference. Thank you very much for your participation. You may now disconnect. Everybody have a wonderful day.

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