Christa Hoyland at QSR Web interviewed Dunkin’ Brands CEO Nigel Travis: Christa writes; Nigel Travis has earned his first-year pin as CEO of Dunkin’ Brands, a year marked by his efforts to put his own stamp on the business. He has reorganized the leadership team and is focused on growth by improving operations and franchisee relations — both strategies in which he has experience.
Strengthening franchisee relations was one of his successes as president and CEO of Papa John’s International Inc. during his four-year tenure before moving to lead the Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins chains last January.
At Blockbuster Inc., where he worked his way up to president and chief operating officer from 1994 – 2004, he built a global franchise network of 300 franchisees in 15 countries with revenues of approximately $1 billion.
A native of Woodford, England, Travis, 60, got his start in the restaurant industry as a Burger King franchisee and he joined Burger King’s Europe, Middle East and Asian corporate staff. He advanced to director of the EMEA market, leading a turnaround of the region.
QSRweb.com talked to Travis about his accomplishments and his strategy for Dunkin’ Donuts in 2010. (Look for a companion piece on Baskin-Robbins later this week.)
Comments have been edited for brevity and clarity.
QSRweb: You now have a year under your belt with Dunkin’ Brands. What do see as Dunkin’ Donuts main strengths and weaknesses?
We’ve got a number of great strengths. On the Dunkin’ side is the traditional (brand loyalty) that is particularly prevalent in the Northeast. It’s a (brand) habit that I think is spreading around the country. Sales of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee by the pound or bulk coffee in supermarkets (thanks to an arrangement with Smuckers Co.) — show that people love the brand. They love the taste of our coffee. I think that sets us apart, and one of the things I have to do is take advantage of those strengths.
At Dunkin’ another major opportunity is we’re effectively in only 25 percent of the country. Our aim is to get in the rest of country in a steady fashion. The way I describe it is contiguous growth. We’re particularly focused on a target that’s best described as Chicago to Philadelphia down to Miami. In that triangle, we’re looking for steady contiguous growth, but the great advantage we have is we’re building on a very strong brand with great awareness.
In terms of weakness, the fact that we’re only in 25 percent of the country is probably a deficit. So that’s both an advantage and a deficit.
What is your strategy for making Dunkin’ a national brand?
We’re pretty clear with our strategy that we want to do everything we can to maintain and improve our store economics for our franchisees in the Northeast. We see an opportunity to build their business not only on the beverage side but also on the food side as well. And in the rest of the country, we’re very much focused on building in that Chicago-Philadelphia-Miami triangle. That triangle in terms of store openings can be very lucrative in the next few years, so that’s a major part of the strategy.
Behind all that, we’re working on improving our franchise economics, which I think comes down to putting in the right systems both at the front of the store and the back of the store and also improving our supply chain. And I feel we’re making substantial progress in both areas.
On top of that, we think international, given the strength of our brand, is a big opportunity, and we’re very focused at the moment on developing China. We currently have 13 stores (in mainland China 10 in Shanghai and three in Shangzhen as well as 27 in Taiwan). We’re opening up in some other cities this year, but I’m kind of excited about the way that currently China store economics are looking.
Do you have specific steps in mind for expanding within that Chicago-Philadelphia-Miami triangle in 2010?
We’re looking for more franchisees. We’re trying to attract our current franchisees to bring in more franchisees — including a referral bonus for our franchisees. We will continue to focus on improving store economics everywhere. A fundamental part of my philosophy is franchisees won’t grow unless they’re making money, so the more money that they make, the more likely that they are to grow.
So I’m excited about the fact that we’re limiting our growth to that area, focusing on franchise economics, looking for more franchisees. That’s a continuation of what we did last year. Last year, across the whole world for both brands, we opened net stores of 500 stores. There’s not many organizations that did that last year, so we feel good with our openings.
We feel that is good in the economic environment. It’s clearly tough to find money. We’re hoping the government continues to put pressure on the banks to lend to small businesses. We’re very strong advocates, and we’re lobbying very hard for that as are our franchisees. So we want to build on that number this year, but I think that considering the difficult period of 2009, that was a great number.
Read more at: QSR Web