Franchise Business Services (FBS), the association representing Buffalo Wild Wings® franchisees expressed its reticence about potential new management direction following the outcome of the stockholder vote supporting Marcato Capital and its slate of three new board members for the Minneapolis-based casual dining restaurant group. “Buffalo Wild Wings franchisees are focused on continuing the momentum of our brand’s leadership in the casual dining sector in many performance indicators,” said Wray Hutchinson, Chairman of the FBS Board of Directors and an owner of 39 Buffalo Wild Wings franchises himself. “We’re hopeful that, since stockholders were so engaged in a healthy debate about our management direction, we will see management decisions that align with our priorities. We’re looking for signals from the new board ensuring they share our focus on customer satisfaction and franchise profitability. If so, we’ll support new management direction.” Before the final vote was tallied today, longtime Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith announced she will retire by the end of the year. When the shareholder election results were announced, Marcato Capital, a San Francisco-based investment manager which manages funds that own approximately 9.9% of the outstanding common shares of BWLD, was successful in their suggested election of new board nominees Scott Bergren, Sam Rovit and Mick McGuire. Mr. Rovit was also on the Buffalo Wild Wings slate of proposed new board nominees. “Sally Smith did a wonderful job leading our organization since 1996 – helping to increase shareholder value 1700% since she took it public in 2003,” Hutchinson said. “The leadership, management and success of Sally Smith with the Buffalo Wild Wings brand is undeniable. We are interested in hearing from the new board, their strategies and willingness to partner with the franchise community in building upon the momentum and success delivered by Ms. Smith during her tenure at the helm of Buffalo Wild Wings. “We appreciate that the majority of owners of our stock recognize the value in supporting our successful brand,” Hutchinson said. “We look forward to sharpening our enterprise, continuing collaborative initiatives improving store profitability, customer loyalty, order and pay at the table, merchant acquirer and EMV compliance, reduction of remodel costs, launch of a system-wide food safety program, food innovation, online ordering and delivery services and cost reduction initiatives such as a collaborative purchasing co-op. We can only hope that the new board will bring energy and focus that are aligned with our goals and that we don’t get distracted by management-by-trial.” “Buffalo Wild Wings is a great brand and investment,” said Mark Jones, FBS Vice Chairman. “No matter how you analyze the data – same-store sales, average customer check, unit growth and volume – or the all-important popularity with and spending by the most populous generational segment, Millennials – we have long believed that Buffalo Wild Wings’ recipe for success was going in the right direction. We are looking forward to working with the entire board at Buffalo Wild Wings on their positive suggestions on enhancing our business and shareholder value.” – Source: Franchise Business Services (FBS).
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