Digital evolution of TGI Fridays boosts legacy casual-dining chain growth

Future-forward initiatives lead to 41 consecutive weeks of comp sales growth

TGI Fridays has been capitalizing on its digital evolution and virtual platforms to grow. According to fiscal year-to-date results, For 41 consecutive weeks, Fridays posted comp(arable) sales growth compared to pre-pandemic numbers from 2019. Also, it increased comp sales by double digits in the latter half of 2021, compared to 2019.

Strength of digital sales

Much of the sales success is fortified by its digital sales component, which is up 290 percent versus 2019.

Powering digital sales, Fridays focused on digital infrastructure, upgrading its online ordering and Rewards/CRM platform and making improvements to the Fridays mobile app. The result? Digital sales now account for 30 percent of the brand’s total sales.

The restaurant chain will launch Fridays on the Fly. The small-format concept store will balance on-premises dining and off-premises demand through takeout convenience. These concept stores will accommodate Fridays menus along with the virtual brands Fridays are embracing. The new format will better tap carryout and delivery opportunities.

“Now that we’ve sustained strong off-premise growth, we can continue our efforts evolving the Fridays experience to meet customer trends, both in-restaurant and off-site,” said Ray Blanchette, TGI Fridays chief executive. “For example, our new Remixed and Remastered menu brings back Fridays fan favorites while adding modern twists. Listening to what our customers want is key to our success.”

Virtual platforms

Fridays’ partnership with C3 also demonstrates the casual-dining chain’s appetite for non-traditional, digital revenue streams. Announced in October, Fridays will use its excess space as dark kitchens to fulfill orders from a variety of C3’s 40 virtual brands.

It starts with C3’s Krispy Rice. The fast-casual brand that provides an on-the-go sushi experience will be available from Fridays on third-party delivery, on Friday’s website and in dining rooms. As part of the deal with C3, Fridays will also have access to the Go by Citizens app. Using C3’s proprietary app, developed by Lunchbox, customers can order from multiple concepts on one user ticket, with no hidden delivery fees.

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Commenting on the digital evolution of TGI Fridays, Blanchette said, “This was another strong year for Fridays. For the past six months, we recorded sales volumes on a same store basis that have exceeded pre-pandemic levels and have consistently beat the casual dining industry average. We’re essentially stronger now than before the pandemic and our strong sales and traffic have reaffirmed the power of the TGI Fridays brand. Not only are we seeing existing guests visit more frequently and lapsed guests return, but an entirely new group of guests are joining the Fridays fan base.”

[Related article: C3’s virtual brands to be available from 170 Fridays US restaurants]

Fridays also noted that it fulfills more than 2,000 digital storefronts on online ordering marketplaces and via third-party delivery providers. Furthermore, a new deal with Reef Kitchens will allow TGI Fridays to unveil as many as 300 delivery-only restaurants in the United States, Canada and internationally in the next five years. Consequently, delivery-only locations opened in Australia, Europe, South America, and the Middle East during the pandemic. The REEF partnership will lead to 28 more ghost-kitchen openings in 2022.

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