Chipotle Sales Down 30 Percent Amid Efforts To Recover From Food Safety Problems

The news comes despite the Mexican chain's high-profile attempts to attract customers following a slew of food safety issues in 2015.

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

Chipotle reported a nearly 30 percent decrease in sales during the first three months of the year despite its high-profile attempts to attract customers following a slew of food safety issues in 2015. 
 
The Mexican restaurant chain said Tuesday that transactions in established restaurants declined by more than 20 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, while revenue fell by 23.4 percent — to $834.5 million — over that span. 
 
The company also reported a $26.4 million quarterly net loss, its first as a publicly traded company. In the first quarter of 2015, by contrast, the company reported profits of $122.6 million. 

Chipotle officials said that the company's sales were nonetheless "on a gradual path to recovery" and that "we remain focused on our mission of changing the way people think about and eat fast food." 
 
“The best approach to re-building our business is to proudly serve safe and delicious food in our high-quality restaurants every single day, which is exactly what we will continue to do,” chairman and co-CEO Steve Ells said in a statement. 
 
Chipotle previously reported a nearly 15 percent decline in sales in the fourth quarter of 2015, which followed highly publicized outbreaks of E. coli and norovirus at Chipotle locations throughout the country. 

(AP Photo)(AP Photo)

The company introduced new food preparation practices and closed its locations for several hours in early February to train workers. In recent weeks, Chipotle also distributed millions of coupons for free burritos in an effort to restore foot traffic in its restaurants. 
 
Chipotle officials said that additional promotions and marketing campaigns will be rolled out, and that the company is considering adding chorizo to its menu. 
 
The earnings statement also indicated that 58 new Chipotle locations opened in the first quarter, which helped offset sliding sales in established restaurants. The company anticipated that 220 to 235 new locations will open during all of 2016.

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