NEW YORK (AP) — Wendy's is standing by its outlook for the year as it pushes ahead with restaurant remodeling plans intended to boost its image.
The company, based in Dublin, Ohio, says about 20 percent of its U.S. locations will be remodeled by 2015. The new look, which includes comfortable seating areas and flat-screen TVs, is intended to have a more inviting feel and is part of the company's goal of positioning itself on the higher end of the fast-food industry.
Wendy's has about 6,500 locations, primarily in North America.
In a conference call with analysts, Chief Financial Officer Steve Hare said sales at established restaurants in the first quarter of the year are off to a solid start after a modest performance a year ago. He declined to provide details, but the company said the new "Right Price, Right Size" value menu is resonating with customers.
Even as it tries to strengthen its image as a purveyor of more premium food, Wendy's is looking to step up its courtship of fast-food customers who are focused squarely on value. But the new menu has a tiered pricing strategy ranging from 99 cents to about $2 intended to sell items at more profitable price. Items on the previous menu all cost 99 cents, which was an issue for some franchisees because the profit margins were too thin.
The company's push to reinvent itself comes as people are increasingly eating at fast-casual chains such as Panera Bread Co., which offers food that's perceived to be higher quality for slightly higher prices. A better image could give Wendy's more wiggle room to raise prices without scaring off customers.
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