NEW YORK (AP) — Chipotle posted its first quarterly loss as a public company as it fights to win back diners with free burritos following a series of food scares.
The Mexican food chain says sales tumbled 29.7 percent at established locations during the first three months of the year. The company's sales have been slammed since an E. Coli outbreak and norovirus cases that scared off customers starting at the end of October.
Executives have sought to win back the trust of customers by tightening food safety measures. The Denver-based company has also stepped up advertising and been giving away coupons for free food to convince customers to return to restaurants.
For the quarter ended March 31, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. lost $26.4 million, or 88 cents per share. Analysts expected a loss of 98 cents per share, according to FactSet.
A year ago, the company earned $122.6 million, or $3.88 per share.
Total revenue fell 23 percent to $834.5 million, missing Wall Street expectations for $867.8 million.
Shares of Chipotle were down 3 percent at $434 in after-market trading.