Hooters Leads 7 Brands Changing Their Businesses

Hooters "breastaurants" have entertained and fed customers since the first store opened in Clearwater, Fla. in 1983. But with revenue dipping, the company announced last week a three to five year revitalization plan, with a new restaurant look, menu and attempts to attract a female clientele.

Here are seven brands, including Hooters of America Restaurant Group, LLC, that have tried to revamp their images to recapture consumers' hearts.


The privately held restaurant chain, based in Atlanta, operates or franchises over 430 Hooters locations in 27 countries.

The company is famous for its Hooters Girls, shapely female workers in white tank tops and short orange shirts. The company employs over 25,000 people including 17,000 Hooters Girls, according to its website. But the company said Hooters is more than that.

"Historically, the lion's share [of the brand's] position was all about the girls," Hooters' chief marketing officer Dave Henninger told Advertising Age. "It's worked relatively well, but we see ourselves in a bigger place than that."

The company hopes a new television campaign and menu, with almost 30 salads, burgers and more chicken wings, and 25 remodeled locations, will help.

The company had U.S. sales of $858 million last year, according to Technomic, a drop from $960 million in 2008, as reported by Time magazine.

PHOTO: J.C. Penny store
Mary Altaffer/AP Photo
J.C. Penney

J.C. Penney's CEO, Ron Johnson, planned a new pricing strategy and image, but they have yet to prove their worth in the company's bottom line.

In May, the company reported a loss of $163 million in the first quarter, or an adjusted $55 million after accounting for restructuring costs, compared to a profit of $64 million in the same period a year ago. The company will report its second quarter results on Friday and expectations have dropped.

J.C. Penney's "Fair and Square" pricing strategy launched in February, hoping to lure customers with everyday low pricing year-round and "month-long values" on specific items, as opposed to sales and print coupons.

Best Buy

Best Buy may be on the brink of a major turnaround if its founder and former CEO, Richard Schulze, succeeds in taking the company private as he proposed to the board on Monday.

The company has already closed dozens of stores this year and shrunk some existing stores' square footage. Analysts say increasing numbers of customers have been "showrooming," going to Best Buy to look products over -- and then buying them more cheaply online.

Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree, Inc. and its dollar store national competitors, like Dollar General, owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, are each trying to revamp their images; no more, they hope, of the shoddy storefronts most people have visited.

Stock in Dollar Tree, based in Chesapeake, Va., has quadrupled over the last three years, but many people still think the stores sell junk.

But, says R.J. Hottovy, a senior retail analyst with the investment firm Morningstar, "Dollar stores are all doing some interesting things in terms of remodeling and adding refrigerators. Their stores, which traditionally have a negative stigma with their appearance, are being refreshed as well."

PHOTO: A McDonald's Big Mac value meal a arranged in New York on July 23, 2010.
Jin Lee/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Casual chain restaurants typically have a major push to renovate stores every seven years or so. Making themselves look more appealing is key to increasing foot traffic, which of course, is critical to increase sales.

"The best example is McDonald's, where you've seen a lot of renovation in the interior and exterior," Morningstar's Hottovy said.

That has led to "meaningful results across the globe, helping bring in a contemporary look and increasing traffic."

The company has also marketed healthier food for children and a plethora of coffee and beverages for adults.

While McDonald's reported relatively solid quarterly results last month, the global economy still affected its bottom line. Second-quarter profit fell to $1.35 billion from $1.41 billion a year ago.

PHOTO: Patrons enter the Outback Steakhouse in in Chicago, Ill.
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Outback Steakhouse

Bloomin Brands, which owns Outback Steakhouse and Bonefish Grill, among other properties, goes public on Wednesday and is expected to raise about $300 million in its IPO. Bain Capital Partners LLC has stake in the company of about 66 percent.

The company opened the first Outback Steakhouse restaurant in 1988 in Tampa, Fla.

With the new IPO cash, the company may renovate some of its 1,400 restaurants in 49 states and 21 countries and territories.

Darden Restaurants

Darden Restaurants Inc. has been expanding beyond its famous Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurants. The company has opened more high-end Capital Grille restaurants, and tried to attract younger customers to its Yard House restaurants. Yard House, with its beer and burger-based menu, has 39 stores in 13 states. The first opened in 1996.

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