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2021 was a year for the books at Inspire Brands.
The Atlanta-based owner of Arby’s, Buffalo Wilds Wings and four other concepts said Friday that each of its brands set a new record for sales growth last year, helping the company generate more than $30 billion in global system sales—a double-digit year-over-year increase.
The growth included a 35% increase in digital sales and also factored in the newly acquired Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins chains, which added more than 20,500 restaurants to Inspire’s portfolio in December 2020.
The country’s second-largest restaurant company also opened a lot of new locations last year, including 500 franchised stores in the U.S. and 800 internationally.
“Each brand in our portfolio achieved record growth in 2021 despite challenging macroeconomic and industry conditions,” said Paul Brown, Inspire’s co-founder and CEO, in a statement. “Through our culture of innovation and using our collective scale to make shared investments in automation, digital, and loyalty, we continue to realize the benefits of having six unique but united restaurant concepts together on one platform.”
Source: Inspire Brands
Each of Inspire’s limited-service brands grew same-store sales by double digits in 2021 compared to 2019. Its lone full-service brand, Buffalo Wild Wings, grew 1.2% on a two-year basis, returning to its pre-pandemic baseline.
Sonic in particular stood out. The 3,500-unit drive-in chain increased sales by more than a quarter, continuing a revitalization under CEO Claudia San Pedro, who was named the 2022 Restaurant Leader of the Year by Restaurant Business.
Inspire’s year was marked by notable growth on the digital front. U.S. digital sales increased by 35% to account for 20% of total system sales, and sales through third-party aggregators exceeded $1 billion. It also grew its base of loyalty members to more than 50 million people across all six brands.
It also opened some new restaurant designs, including the first drive-thru-only Jimmy John’s and the first all-digital Dunkin’. And it launched Alliance Kitchen, a ghost kitchen in Atlanta offering multiple Inspire concepts.
“While there are certainly a number of headwinds facing the restaurant industry this year, I’m optimistic about the future growth trajectory driven by the positive momentum of our brands,” Brown said.
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