Chipotle Mexican Grill is encouraged by the strength of its digital sales even with its dining rooms open due to coronavirus-related closures, CFO Jack Hartung told CNBC on Friday.
“The pandemic has really put some turbochargers behind our digital business, of course, but as we start to see Covid behind us – and we still have a long way to go – we keep most of that digital business, around 80%,” said Hartung in an interview on “Closing Bell”.
“Then when the restaurants reopened … we regained about 60% of what we lost when the pandemic started,” added Hartung, who joined Chipotle nearly two decades ago. “So, really, we’ll be ahead of the game in the end, though [the] The pandemic is completely behind us. We are very optimistic about where we are going from here. “
During the Covid crisis, customers flocked to Chipotle’s online ordering options. The fast casual chain saw digital sales jump 174% year over year in 2020, resulting in a 7.1% increase in total sales. Digital sales accounted for 46.2% of the California-based company’s sales last year, compared to 18% of sales in 2019.
In November, Chipotle opened its first restaurant entirely digital. More recently, quesadillas have been added to the menu, but the long-awaited addition is only available for online orders.
Earlier this week, Chipotle announced an expansion of its debt-free college degree for employees. It now includes degrees in agriculture, food and hospitality.
According to Hartung, Chipotle has seen positive results since the educational initiative was launched almost two years ago.
“When our employees use these debt-free programs, they are three and a half times more likely to stay with us and seven times more likely to be in leadership positions. We see this as an investment in our people.” Said Hartung.
Chipotle’s shares closed the session modestly on Friday at around $ 1,531 apiece. The stock is up 10.4% since the start of the year and nearly 100% over the past 12 months.