Chipotle and Just Eat Takeaway CEOs Optimistic on Return to Normal By Reuters

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By Hilary Russ and Nivedita Balu (Reuters) – Fast and casual American chain Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (NYSE 🙂 and Dutch delivery company Just Eat Takeaway.com predicted a return to more normal levels of dining out for the spring or the summer of 2021, he said Thursday. The two companies, which thrived during the coronavirus pandemic, saw little downside to the idea that consumers will want to eat in dining rooms again, rather than buying burritos to go or ordering delivery. “I’m very optimistic that people will go back to the dining rooms,” Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol said during a panel discussion at the Reuters Next conference. Fast food and some fast-casual chains, as well as third-party delivery services, have thrived during the pandemic as consumers switched to delivery, drive-thru, and pickup for restaurant meals. Niccol and Jitse Groen, CEO of Just Eat Takeaway, predicted a rapid recovery to more normal levels of consumer behavior before the pandemic in 2020, followed by years of possible expansion for their companies. “We will go back to some kind of normalcy from April, at least in Europe,” Groen said. “It will be a combination of having vaccinated the most vulnerable people and improving the climate.” The shifts towards e-commerce and digital ordering will likely be sustained in the long term, they said. Both executives said orders will also gradually return to the offices as workers return. Within five years, Chipotle could double its number of US stores, currently around 2,700, to as many as 6,000 locations, while increasing average annual sales per store from $ 2.3 million now to “hopefully approaching” $ 3 million, Niccol said. It also anticipates a “much larger global footprint for the foreseeable future” compared to the current 16 Mexican fast food restaurants across Europe. Its eight UK locations will soon be added to the Just Eat Takeaway online marketplace, Groen said. Looking ahead, Groen said people will order deliveries more often and order more food each time. Overall speed could also increase, from 25 minutes now optimally to just 15 minutes in the next few years. Takeaway, which acquired Just Eat in 2020 and is closing its deal to buy the US-based GrubHub (NYSE 🙂 Inc, is on its way to becoming the largest third-party restaurant delivery company outside of China. Groen said the delivery industry is constantly changing, making it difficult for him to give accurate estimates of growth as well as saying his company “will be much larger.” For more information on the Reuters Next conference, click here or http://www.reuters.com/business/reuters-next. To watch Reuters Next live, visit https://www.reutersevents.com/events/next/register. php

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