Dunkin' Brands says U.S. election jitters slowing store openings

Thu Oct 20, 2016 6:03pm EDT
 
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By Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) - Dunkin' Brands Group Inc DNKN.O on Thursday said franchisees are expected to open fewer doughnut and coffee shops this year due to uncertainty about the economy and regulations, which could be impacted by the outcome of U.S. elections next month.

Shares in Dunkin' Brands, which are fueled by expectations that Dunkin' Donuts will expand aggressively in the United States, fell 3.2 percent to $49.38 on Thursday.

The group now expects net new U.S. Dunkin' Donuts openings to be at the low end of a previously provided range of 430 to 460 stores this year.

Chief Executive Officer Nigel Travis told Reuters that some franchisees are putting new store plans on hold until after the Nov. 8 election, when the political landscape is more certain.

"Franchisees are uncertain which direction everything is going in terms of government," he said. "Everyone is sick to death of the election ... Once we know the direction we're going in, they'll be able to deal with it" and growth will resume, he added.

U.S. restaurants also are battling intense competition from upstart chains and meal-kit sellers, in addition to getting battered by falling grocery prices, which are encouraging more people to eat at home.

Franchisees could face problem no matter whether Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton takes the White House.

There is growing speculation that Trump's sinking poll numbers could influence elections on the federal and state level, which could affect tax, healthcare and minimum wage policies. If local elections are hit, policies covering construction and business regulation could shift.   Continued...

 
The logo of Dunkin' Donuts is on display in Tbilisi, Georgia, July 13, 2016. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili