Date: 2/18/2021 Form: 10-K - Annual Report
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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
(Mark one)
XANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 26, 2020
or
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from _____ to _____
Commission File No. 001-37425
WINGSTOP INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Delaware47-3494862
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)(IRS Employer Identification No.)
5501 LBJ Freeway, 5th Floor,
Dallas, Texas
75240

(Address of principal executive offices)(Zip Code)

(972) 686-6500
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each classTrading Symbol(s)Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, par value $0.01 per shareWINGNASDAQ Global Select Market
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. x Yes   ¨ No

Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. ¨ Yes   x No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. x Yes   ¨ No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). x Yes   ¨ No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer,” "accelerated filer,” "smaller reporting company,” and "emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filerxAccelerated filer
Non-accelerated filer
¨Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company




If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ¨

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. x

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).  Yes   x No

As of June 27, 2020, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s outstanding common equity held by non-affiliates was approximately $4.0 billion, based on the closing price of the registrant’s common stock on June 27, 2020, the last trading day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter.

As of February 16, 2021, there were 29,688,007 shares of common stock, par value of $0.01 per share, outstanding.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the proxy statement for the registrant's 2021 annual meeting of stockholders, which will be filed no later than 120 days after the end of the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 26, 2020, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this report.




TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I
Page
Item 1.
Item 1A.
Item 1B.
Item 2.
Item 3.
Item 4.
PART II
Item 5.
Item 6.
Item 7.
Item 7A.
Item 8.
Item 9.
Item 9A.
Item 9B.
PART III
Item 10.
Item 11.
Item 12.
Item 13.
Item 14.
PART IV
Item 15.
Item 16.
Signatures


3


Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This report includes statements of our expectations, intentions, plans and beliefs that constitute "forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "Securities Act"), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the "Exchange Act"), and are intended to come within the safe harbor protection provided by those sections. These statements, which involve risks and uncertainties, relate to the discussion of our business strategies and our expectations concerning future operations, margins, profitability, trends, liquidity and capital resources and to analyses and other information that are based on forecasts of future results and estimates of amounts not yet determinable. These forward-looking statements can generally be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology, including the terms "may,” "will,” "should,” "expect,” "intend,” "plan,” "anticipate,” "believe,” "think,” "estimate,” "seek,” "expect,” "predict,” "could,” "project,” "potential” or, in each case, their negative or other variations or comparable terminology, although not all forward-looking statements are accompanied by such terms. Examples of forward-looking statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K include, but are not limited to, our expectations with respect to our future liquidity, expenses, and consumer appeal. These forward-looking statements are made based on expectations and beliefs concerning future events affecting us and are subject to uncertainties, risks, and factors relating to our operations and business environments, all of which are difficult to predict and many of which are beyond our control, that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those matters expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Such risks and other factors include those listed in Item 1A., "Risk Factors,” and elsewhere in this report.
When considering forward-looking statements in this report or that we make in other reports or statements, you should keep in mind the cautionary statements in this report and future reports we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"). New risks and uncertainties arise from time to time, and we cannot predict when they may arise or how they may affect us. Any forward-looking statement in this report speaks only as of the date on which it was made. Except as required by law, we assume no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements for any reason, or to update the reasons actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in any forward-looking statements, even if new information becomes available in the future.
4


PART I

Item 1.Business
Throughout this report, unless the context indicates otherwise, Wingstop Inc. (NASDAQ: WING) and its consolidated subsidiaries are referred to as the "Company," "Wingstop," or in the first-person notations of "we," "us" and "our."
Overview
Wingstop is the largest fast casual chicken wings-focused restaurant chain in the world, with over 1,500 locations worldwide. We are dedicated to serving the world flavor through an unparalleled guest experience and offering of classic wings, boneless wings and tenders, always cooked to order, and hand-sauced-and-tossed in 11 bold, distinctive flavors.
The Company is primarily a franchisor, with approximately 98% of Wingstop’s restaurants currently owned and operated by independent franchisees. Wingstop generates revenues by charging royalties, advertising fees, and franchise fees to our franchisees and by operating a number of our own restaurants. We believe our asset-light, highly-franchised business model generates strong operating margins and requires low capital expenditures, creating stockholder value through strong and consistent free cash flow and capital-efficient growth.
Historically, the Company had two reporting segments: franchise operations and company restaurant operations. In accordance with Accounting Standards Codification 280 "Segment Reporting”, the Company uses the management approach for determining its reportable segments. The management approach is based upon the way management reviews performance and allocates resources. During the second fiscal quarter of 2020, the Company reevaluated its operating segments and determined it has one operating segment and one reporting segment due to changes in how the Company’s chief operating decision maker assesses the Company’s performance and allocates resources.
Our History
The first Wingstop restaurant opened in Garland, Texas in 1994. We began franchising Wingstop restaurants in 1997, and in 2009 we opened our first international location in Mexico.
Wingstop Inc. was incorporated in Delaware on March 18, 2015. On June 15, 2015, we completed our initial public offering, and our stock became listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol "WING.”
Our Industry
We operate in the rapidly-growing, and intensely competitive, fast casual segment of the restaurant industry. We believe that fast casual concepts, which are a segment of limited service restaurants ("LSRs"), such as Wingstop, attract customers away from other restaurant segments and, accordingly, are generating faster growth than the overall restaurant industry and increasing their market share relative to other segments.
We compete on the basis of taste, quality, price of food offered, guest service, ambiance, location, and overall dining experience. We also compete with many restaurant and retail establishments for site locations and restaurant-level employees.
We believe we compete primarily with fast casual establishments and quick service restaurants, local and regional sports bars, and casual dining restaurants. Many of these direct and indirect competitors are well-established national, regional, or local chains. We believe that our attractive price-value relationship, our flexible service model, and the quality and distinctive flavor of our food enables us to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.
Our Menu
It is our mission to serve the world flavor. We offer our guests fresh, cooked-to-order wings with bold, layered flavors that touch all of the senses and complement our wings with fresh-cut, seasoned fries and fresh, hand-cut carrots and celery. We round out the flavor experience with ranch and bleu cheese dips that are made in-house daily. We never use heat lamps or microwaves in the preparation of our food.
5


Our 11 flavor offerings create a differentiated experience that drives demand across multiple day parts and occasions. Paired with our numerous order options (eat-in (to the extent available) / to go / delivery; individual / combo meals / family packs) that allow guests to eat Wingstop during any occasion, whether it is a quick carry-out snack, a party size order for their favorite group occasion, or delivery for a family dinner, we believe this customizable unique experience drives repeat business and brand loyalty.
Our Vision
Our vision is to become a top 10 global restaurant brand. Based on our internal analysis, we believe there is opportunity for our brand to grow to more than 3,000 restaurants across the United States and to more than 3,000 restaurants internationally. Our approach to becoming a top 10 global restaurant brand centers around the following key strategic priorities:
sustaining long-term same store sales growth through brand awareness and innovation;
maintaining best in class unit economics; and
expanding our global footprint.
This approach is built upon the foundation of our investments in the people and infrastructure necessary to build our organization for the next level.
Sustaining Long-Term Same Store Sales Growth through Brand Awareness and Innovation
In February 2017, we launched our national advertising program. Our transition from advertising cooperatives, a more locally driven advertising approach, to national advertising provided us with more reach and frequency in existing media markets and expanded our coverage to smaller and newer markets where we did not previously utilize television advertising. We fund our national advertising program through the Wingstop Restaurants Advertising Fund (the "Ad Fund”), a consolidated not-for-profit advertising fund for which a percentage of gross sales is collected from Wingstop restaurant domestic franchisees and company-owned restaurants to be used for various forms of advertising for the Wingstop brand. Beginning in fiscal year 2019, we increased the contribution rate that domestic franchisees are required to contribute to the Ad Fund from 3% to 4% of gross sales. Our national advertising program focuses on two key messaging windows and utilizes an extensive range of social media and digital marketing tools, including search engine, digital video, and social media advertising, to allow us to target core customers and increase brand awareness.
We are making focused investments in technology to provide a convenient and engaging brand experience, with the goal of digitizing every transaction. We developed a custom website and mobile ordering application that we believe position Wingstop for further digital expansion. Delivery also continues to drive our digital sales.
In 2017, we partnered with DoorDash to provide delivery to our customers, and substantially all of our domestic restaurants offered delivery as of the end of the 2020 fiscal year. We believe our DoorDash partnership and delivery strategy will continue to drive domestic same store sales growth. Our digital sales increased to 62.5% of sales during the fourth quarter of 2020, compared to 38.2% of sales during the fourth quarter of 2019.
Maintaining Best-in-Class Unit Economics
We believe the growing popularity of the Wingstop experience and the operational simplicity of our restaurants translate into attractive economics at our franchised and company-owned locations. Existing franchisees accounted for approximately 94% of franchised restaurants opened in 2020 and approximately 90% of franchised restaurants opened in 2019, which we believe further underscores our restaurant model’s financial appeal.
Upon opening, our restaurant volume generally builds year after year. Our domestic average unit volume ("AUV”) has grown consistently, approaching $1.5 million during fiscal year 2020. Our operating model targets a low average estimated initial investment of approximately $390,000, excluding real estate purchase or lease costs and pre-opening expenses. In year two of operation, we target a franchisee unlevered cash-on-cash return of approximately 35% to 40%. We believe low entry costs and high returns provide a compelling investment opportunity for our franchisees that has helped drive the continued growth of our system.
6


Expanding Our Global Footprint
We believe that there is significant opportunity to expand globally, and we intend to focus our efforts on increasing our geographic penetration in both existing and new domestic markets, as well as international markets. We believe our highly-franchised model positions us for continued strong unit growth over the medium- and long-term. We expect franchisee demand for our brand, supported by compelling unit economics, operational simplicity, low entry costs, and flexible real estate profile, to drive global restaurant growth.
We believe we can achieve our domestic restaurant potential by expanding in our existing markets where we believe we can more than double our current restaurant count, as well as continuing to expand into emerging markets. Our "inside out” domestic market expansion strategy focuses our initial development in urban centers where our core demographic is most densely populated and then builds outward into suburban areas as our brand awareness grows in the market. We have a robust domestic development pipeline and over 80% of our domestic commitments as of December 26, 2020 were from existing franchisees, supporting the attractiveness of our restaurant business model as well as our positive franchisor-franchisee relationships.
We also believe that there is a significant opportunity to grow our business internationally. As of December 26, 2020, we had 179 international restaurants located in nine countries, all of which were franchised. In fiscal year 2020, we opened 26 international locations. We believe that our restaurant operating model translates well internationally based on our small real estate footprint, our simplicity of operations, the universal and broad appeal of chicken, and our ability to customize our wide variety of flavors to local tastes.
Our Franchise
Franchise Overview
Our franchisees operated a total of 1,506 restaurants in 44 states and ten countries as of December 26, 2020. We have rigorous qualification criteria and training programs for our franchisees and require them to adhere to strict operating standards. We work hard to ensure that every Wingstop franchise location meets the same quality and customer service benchmarks in order to preserve the consistency and reliability of the Wingstop brand.
Franchisees (along with their managers) must attend and successfully complete a four-week training program prior to opening a new franchise restaurant. Our training program covers various topics including Wingstop culture, food preparation and storage, food safety, cleaning and sanitation, marketing and advertising, point of sale ("POS") systems, accounting, and hospitality, among others.
All of our franchise agreements require that each franchised restaurant be operated in accordance with our defined operating procedures, adhere to the menu we establish, and meet applicable quality, service, health, and cleanliness standards. We may terminate the franchise rights of any franchisee who does not comply with our standards and requirements. We believe that maintaining superior food quality, an inviting and energetic atmosphere, and excellent guest service are critical to the reputation and success of our concept. Therefore, we enforce the contractual requirements of our franchise agreements.
We have a broad and diversified domestic franchisee base. Since 2014, the number of franchisees who own ten or more restaurants has more than doubled. This increase is consistent with our strategy to grow with our existing franchisees. As of December 26, 2020, our domestic franchise base had an average restaurant ownership of approximately six restaurants per franchisee and an average tenure of seven years.
U.S. Franchise Agreements
We enter into franchise agreements with U.S. franchisees under which the franchisee is generally granted the right to operate a restaurant in a particular location, typically providing for a 10-year initial term, with an opportunity to enter into one or more renewal franchise agreements subject to certain conditions. We generally update and/or revise our franchise agreement on an annual basis and, as a result, the agreements we enter into with individual franchisees may vary. Our franchise documents currently provide that franchisees must pay a franchise fee of $20,000 for each restaurant opened. If a franchisee has entered into an area development agreement to develop restaurants in a defined market area with us (which occurs, in most cases, even if a franchisee wants to develop only one restaurant), the aggregate initial fee is $30,000 for each restaurant, which includes a $10,000 development fee per restaurant. The $10,000 development fee per restaurant to-be-developed is paid in full at the time a development agreement is signed for the grant of development rights and is not refundable.
7


Under our current standard franchise agreement, each franchisee is required to pay us a royalty of 6% of their gross sales net of discounts. Each restaurant also contributes 4% of gross sales net of discounts to fund national marketing and advertising campaigns. These funds are managed by the Ad Fund and are primarily used to create advertising content and purchase digital and television advertising on a national level. In addition to the national and market-level advertising contributions, U.S. stores generally spend additional funds on local restaurant marketing activities. For example, our current form of franchise agreement requires franchisees to spend a percentage of their gross sales on local advertising and promotions.
International Franchise Agreements
Our markets outside of the United States are operated by master franchisees with franchise and distribution rights for entire regions or countries. The master franchise agreement typically requires the franchisees to open a minimum number of restaurants within a specified period. The master franchisee is generally required to pay an initial, upfront development fee for the territory as well as a franchise fee for each restaurant opened. Under our current standard master franchise agreement, each master franchisee is also required to pay a continuing royalty fee as a percentage of sales, which varies among international markets, but is currently set at 6%.
Suppliers and Distribution
Our franchisees are required to purchase all chicken, groceries, produce, beverages, equipment and signage, furniture, fixtures, logo-imprinted paper goods, and cleaning supplies solely from suppliers that we designate and approve. Our supply partners are required to meet strict quality standards to ensure food safety. We regularly inspect vendors to ensure our standards are being met and that prices offered are competitive.
The principal raw materials for a Wingstop restaurant operation are bone-in and boneless chicken wings. Therefore, chicken is our largest product cost item and represented approximately 65% of all purchases for the 2020 fiscal year. Company-owned and franchised restaurants purchase their bone-in and boneless chicken wings from suppliers that we designate and approve. We designate sources for potatoes to ensure that they are grown to our specifications. We also require franchisees to use our proprietary sauces, seasonings, and spice blends and to purchase them and other proprietary products only from designated sources.
All food items and packaging goods for Wingstop restaurants are sourced through one distributor, Performance Food Group ("PFG"). There are sixteen geographically diverse PFG distribution centers, which carry all products required for a Wingstop restaurant and service all of Wingstop’s domestic restaurants. PFG is contractually obligated to deliver products to our restaurants at least twice weekly. PFG provides consolidated deliveries with a tightly controlled and monitored cold chain. Its national distribution system has a documented recovery plan to handle any disruption. Wingstop contracts directly with manufacturers to sell products to PFG, who in turn receives a fee for delivering these items to our restaurants. The majority of Wingstop’s highest-spend items are formula or fixed-contract priced. Wingstop has also negotiated agreements with its soft drink suppliers to offer soft drink dispensing systems, along with associated branded products, in all Wingstop restaurants.
Information / Technology Systems
We have core information systems in place that, together with focused investments we are making in technology, we believe are designed to scale and support our future growth plans. We specify a standard point of sale ("POS") system and restaurant management system in all domestic restaurants that helps facilitate the operation of the restaurants by recording sales, purchasing and inventory of goods, managing of labor and assessing restaurant performance. Our POS system and restaurant management system is configured to record and store financial information in a manner that we specify, and we require franchisees to provide us with continual and unlimited independent access to all information on each POS system.
We have an online ordering platform and mobile ordering applications that integrate with third party delivery providers and our POS system, which makes it easy for our guests to order-ahead, and which we believe leads to higher check averages.
We require our franchisees’ electronic information systems, including POS systems, comply with and maintain established network security standards, including applicable Payment Card Industry ("PCI") and data privacy standards.
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Human Capital Resources
As of December 26, 2020, we employed 819 employees, affectionately referred to as team members, of whom 238 were full-time corporate-based and regional personnel. The remainder were part-time or restaurant-level team members. None of our team members are represented by a labor union or covered by a collective bargaining agreement, and we believe that we have good relations with our team members. Our franchise owners are independent business owners, so they and their team members are not included in our team member count and are not our team members.
Our human capital objectives include attracting, training, motivating, rewarding and retaining team members. To support these objectives, our team member programs are designed to develop talent and prepare team members for advancement and leadership positions in the future; provide market-competitive pay and benefits; focus on team members’ health, safety and well-being; enhance our culture through our continuing efforts to make our workplace more engaging and inclusive; and acquire talent and facilitate internal talent mobility to create a high-performing and diverse workforce.
We are committed to fostering an environment of diversity and inclusion, including among our board members, and having diverse representation across all levels of our workforce. Examples of some of our recent efforts and metrics include:
we implemented unconscious bias training for all our corporate team members;
currently 50% of our board of directors classify as diverse;
we are a member of the Women’s Foodservice Forum; and
our Chief Executive Officer joined the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion.
We are also committed to providing competitive pay to compensate and reward our team members. All corporate management and staff and restaurant management positions, including hourly assistant managers and shift leaders, are eligible for performance-based cash incentives. Our incentive plan reinforces and rewards individuals for achievement of specific company and/or restaurant business goals.
We offer comprehensive benefit programs to eligible team members. Our core health and welfare benefits are supplemented with a variety of voluntary benefits and paid time away from work programs. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have continued a strong focus on team member well-being, health and safety.
Another area of focus for us is investing in people and infrastructure to build the organization for the next level. In addition to seeking to acquire new talent in the marketplace that share our values and goals, we recognize and support the growth and development of our team members and offer opportunities to participate in regular talent and development planning reviews to assist us with growing our internal restaurant teams, resulting in a majority of current managers of company-owned restaurants being promoted from within.
COVID-19 Response
We took early action regarding team member well-being in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, implementing comprehensive protocols to protect the health and safety of our team members and guests. Remote work for corporate management and staff was adopted ahead of state and county requirements. We did not reduce scheduled hours for team members in our company-owned restaurants. For team members of our company-owned restaurants, we also enhanced our benefits programs to offer expanded supplemental paid sick leave ahead of state and county mandates and in counties where sick leave was not mandated, as well as distributed COVID-19 related incentive payments to our restaurant team members.
Government Regulation
We and our franchisees are subject to various federal regulations affecting the operation of our business. We and our franchisees are subject to the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act, the U.S. Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and various other federal and state laws governing matters such as minimum wage requirements, overtime, fringe benefits, workplace safety and other working conditions and citizenship requirements. A significant number of our and our franchisees’ food service personnel are paid at rates related to the applicable minimum wage, and past increases in the minimum wage have increased our and our franchisees’ labor costs, as would future increases. Our distributors and suppliers also may be affected by higher minimum wage and benefit standards, which could result in higher costs for goods and services supplied to us and our franchisees.
We are subject to extensive and varied state and local government regulation affecting the operation of our business, as are our franchisees, including regulations relating to public and occupational health and safety, sanitation, fire prevention, and franchise operation. Each restaurant is subject to licensing and regulation by a number of governmental authorities, including with respect to zoning, health, safety, sanitation, nutritional information disclosure, environmental, and building and fire safety, in the jurisdiction in which the restaurant is located. Our and our franchisees’ licenses to sell alcoholic beverages must be renewed
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annually and may be suspended or revoked at any time for cause, including violation by us or our employees, or our franchisees or their employees, of any law or regulation pertaining to alcoholic beverage control, such as those regulating the minimum age of patrons or employees, advertising, wholesale purchasing, and inventory control.
In addition, we are subject to the rules and regulations of the Federal Trade Commission (the "FTC") and various state laws regulating the offer and sale of franchises. The FTC and various state franchise laws require that we furnish a franchise disclosure document containing certain information to prospective franchisees in advance of any franchise sale or the receipt of any consideration for the franchise, and a number of states require registration of the franchise disclosure document at least annually with state authorities. We are operating under exemptions from registration (though not disclosure) in several states based on our qualifications for exemption as set forth in each such state’s laws. Substantive state laws that regulate the franchisor-franchisee relationship, including in the areas of termination and non-renewal, presently exist in a substantial number of states. We believe that our franchise disclosure document and franchising procedures comply in all material respects with both the FTC guidelines and all applicable state laws regulating franchising in those states in which we have offered franchises.
Our international franchised restaurants are subject to national and local laws and regulations that are often similar to those affecting our U.S. restaurants. We believe that we have established procedures at our international franchised restaurants that provide reasonable assurance that our international franchised restaurants comply in all material respects with the laws of the applicable foreign jurisdiction.
Environmental Matters
We are not aware of any federal, state or local environmental laws or regulations that we would expect to materially affect our earnings or competitive position or result in material capital expenditures. However, we cannot predict the effect of possible future environmental legislation or regulations. During the 2020 fiscal year, there were no material environmental compliance-related capital expenditures.
Community Involvement
We are committed to strengthening the neighborhoods that we serve by being strong, active, corporate citizens and good neighbors. In fiscal year 2020, we donated $1 million to the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s Restaurant Employee Relief Fund and, along with our franchisees, provided more than 1 million meals to frontline workers and COVID first responders. In 2016, we created Wingstop Charities, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing and elevating the community work of our franchisees to make a difference in the lives of our youth, which has donated over $600,000 through local grants and team member assistance since its inception. You can find more about the involvement of Wingstop Charities in its local communities at www.wingstopcharities.org.
Additional Information about the Company
We make available, free of charge, through our internet website www.wingstop.com, our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act as soon as reasonably practicable after such material is electronically filed with or furnished to the SEC. Materials filed with the SEC are also available at www.sec.gov.
References to our website addresses or the website addresses of third parties in this report do not constitute incorporation by reference of the information contained on such websites and should not be considered part of this report.
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Item 1A.Risk Factors
Risks Related to Our Business and Our Industry
If we fail to successfully implement our growth strategy, which includes opening new restaurants, our ability to increase our revenue and operating profits could be materially adversely affected.
Our growth strategy relies substantially upon new restaurant development by existing and new franchisees and we are continuously seeking to identify target markets where we can enter or expand. We and our franchisees face many challenges in opening new restaurants, including:
availability of financing;
selection and availability of and competition for suitable restaurant locations;
negotiation of acceptable lease and financing terms;
securing required governmental permits and approvals, including zoning approvals;
employment and training of and wage rates for qualified personnel;
general economic and business conditions;
unanticipated increases in construction and development costs; and
the legal and regulatory requirements applicable to our industry.
In particular, because substantially all of our new restaurant development is funded by franchisee investment, our growth strategy is dependent on our franchisees’ (or prospective franchisees’) ability to access funds to finance such development. We do not provide our franchisees with direct financing and therefore if our franchisees (or prospective franchisees) are not able to obtain independent financing at commercially reasonable rates, or at all, they may be unwilling or unable to invest in the development of new restaurants, and our future growth could be adversely affected. To the extent our franchisees are unable to open new restaurants at the level that we anticipate, our revenue growth would come primarily from growth in same store sales. Our failure to add a significant number of new restaurants or grow domestic same store sales would adversely affect our ability to increase our revenue and operating income and could materially adversely affect our operating results. As a result of the foregoing, we cannot predict whether our growth strategy will be successful.
Changes in food and supply costs could materially adversely affect our results of operations.
Our profitability depends in part on our ability to anticipate and react to changes in food and supply costs. There are no established fixed price markets for bone-in chicken wings. As a result, we are subject to prevailing market conditions and remain susceptible to volatility in food costs. Any increase in the prices of the ingredients most critical to our menu, particularly chicken, could materially adversely affect our operating results. Food costs may also increase as a result of factors beyond our control, such as inflation, general economic conditions, seasonal fluctuations, weather conditions, demand, food safety concerns, product recalls and government regulations. Additionally, avian influenza, or similar poultry-related diseases, may negatively affect the supply chain by increasing costs and limiting availability of chicken. As a result, we may not be able to anticipate or successfully react to changing food costs, including the price of bone-in chicken wings, by adjusting our purchasing practices, increasing our menu prices to pass along commodity price increases to our customers or making other operational adjustments, which could materially adversely affect our operating results.
Our success depends in significant part on the future performance of existing and new franchise restaurants, and we are subject to a variety of additional risks associated with our franchisees.
A substantial portion of our revenue comes from royalties generated by our franchised restaurants. Accordingly, we are reliant on the performance of our franchisees in successfully operating their restaurants and paying royalties to us on a timely basis. Our franchise system subjects us to a number of risks, any one of which may impact our ability to collect royalty payments from our franchisees, may harm the goodwill associated with our franchise, and may materially adversely affect our business and results of operations.
Our franchisees are an integral part of our business. We may be unable to successfully implement our growth strategy without the participation of our franchisees and the adherence by our franchisees to our restaurant operation guidelines. Because our ability to control our franchisees is limited, our franchisees may fail to focus on the fundamentals of restaurant operations, such as quality, service, and cleanliness, which would have a negative impact on our success. In addition, our franchisees may fail to participate in our marketing initiatives, which could materially adversely affect their sales trends, average weekly sales, and
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results of operations. Although we provide frequent training opportunities to our franchisees to ensure consistency among our operations, there may be differences in the quality of operations at our franchised restaurants that impact the profitability of those restaurants. In addition, if our franchisees fail to renew their franchise agreements, our royalty revenue may decrease, which in turn could materially adversely affect our business and operating results.
Furthermore, a bankruptcy of any multi-unit franchisee could negatively impact our ability to collect payments due under such franchisee’s franchise agreements. In a franchisee bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee may reject its franchise agreements under the applicable bankruptcy code, in which case there would be no further royalty payments from such franchisee. The amount of the proceeds, if any, that may ultimately be recovered in a bankruptcy proceeding of such franchisee may not be sufficient to satisfy a damage claim resulting from such rejection.
If we fail to identify, recruit and contract with a sufficient number of qualified franchisees, our ability to open new franchised restaurants and increase our revenue could be materially adversely affected.
The opening of additional franchised restaurants depends, in part, upon the availability of prospective franchisees who meet our criteria. We may not be able to identify, recruit or contract with suitable franchisees in our target markets on a timely basis or at all. Although we have developed criteria to evaluate and screen prospective franchisees, our franchisees may not ultimately have the business acumen or be able to access the financial or management resources that they need to open and successfully operate the restaurants contemplated by their agreements with us, or they may elect to cease restaurant development for other reasons and state franchise laws may limit our ability to terminate or modify these license agreements. If any of these situations occur, our growth may be slower than anticipated, which could materially adversely affect our ability to increase our revenue and materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Also, the number of new franchised Wingstop restaurants that actually open in the future may differ materially from the number of signed commitments from potential existing and new franchisees. Historically, a portion of our signed commitments have not ultimately opened as new franchised Wingstop restaurants. The historic conversion rate of signed commitments to new franchised Wingstop locations may not be indicative of the conversion rates we will experience in the future, and the total number of new franchised Wingstop restaurants actually opened in the future may differ materially from the number of signed commitments disclosed at any point in time.
Our stated sales to investment ratio and target unlevered cash-on-cash return may not be indicative of future results of any new franchised restaurant.
Initial investment levels, AUV levels, restaurant-level operating costs and restaurant-level operating profit of any new restaurant may differ from average levels experienced by franchisees in prior periods due to a variety of factors, and these differences may be material. Accordingly, our stated sales to investment ratio and average unlevered cash-on-cash return may not be indicative of future results of any new franchised restaurant. In addition, estimated initial investment costs and restaurant-level operating costs are based on information self-reported by our franchisees and have not been verified by us. Furthermore, performance of new restaurants is impacted by a range of risks and uncertainties beyond our or our franchisees’ control, including those described by other risk factors described in this report.
Food safety and food-borne illness concerns may have a material adverse effect on our business.
Food safety is a top priority, and we dedicate substantial resources to ensure that our customers enjoy safe, quality food products. However, food-borne illnesses, such as salmonella, E. coli infection, or hepatitis A, and food safety issues, including food tampering or contamination, have occurred in the food industry in the past, and could occur in the future. Any report or publicity linking our restaurants to instances of food-borne illness or food safety issues could materially adversely affect our brand and reputation as well as our revenue and profits. Even instances of food-borne illness or food safety issues occurring solely at our competitors' restaurants could result in negative publicity about the food service industry or fast casual restaurants generally and adversely impact our restaurants.
In addition, our reliance on third-party food suppliers and distributors increases the risk that food-borne illness incidents could be caused by factors outside of our control and that multiple restaurants would be affected rather than a single restaurant. We cannot ensure that all food items are properly maintained during transport throughout the supply chain or that our employees and our franchisees and their employees will identify all products that may be spoiled and should not be used. Our industry has also long been subject to the threat of food tampering by suppliers, employees, and others such as the addition of foreign objects in the food that we sell. Reports, whether or not true, of injuries caused by food tampering have in the past severely injured the reputations and brands of restaurant chains in the quick service restaurant segment and could affect us in the future as well. If our customers become ill from food-borne illnesses or injured from food tampering, we could also be forced to
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temporarily close some restaurants. Moreover, any instances of food contamination, whether or not at our restaurants, could subject our restaurants or our suppliers to a food recall pursuant to the Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act.
Public health epidemics or outbreaks, such as COVID-19, could materially adversely impact our business.
Federal, state and local government responses to a pandemic, such as COVID-19, and our Company’s response to the pandemic have in the past disrupted and in the future may disrupt our business. Because of COVID-19, in the United States and throughout much of the world, individuals are currently being encouraged to practice social distancing, restricted from gathering in groups and, in some areas, placed on complete restriction from non-essential movements outside of their homes. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and these changing conditions, we closed the dining rooms in all of our domestic restaurants, which at the time represented approximately 20% of our domestic system sales, and also closed the dining rooms in some of our international restaurants. We also incurred additional operating expenses at our company-owned restaurants due to the payment of increased incentive compensation to our full-time team members and increased selling, general and administrative expense due to COVID-19-related support provided to international franchisees. The COVID-19 pandemic and these responses to date have adversely affected and will continue to adversely affect our international guest traffic and sales and operating costs for our company-owned restaurants, and we cannot predict how long the pandemic will last or what other government responses may occur.
Continuing disruptions in operations due to pandemics, such as COVID-19-related social distancing, or other movement restricting policies put in place, could impact our revenues or result in our providing payment relief or other forms of support to franchisees, and could materially adversely affect our business and results of operations. Restaurant operations could be further disrupted if any employees are diagnosed with a pandemic illness, such as COVID-19, since this could require some or all of a restaurant’s employees to be quarantined and restaurant facilities to be closed to disinfect. If a significant percentage of the workforce is unable to work, whether because of illness, quarantine, limitations on travel, or other government restrictions in connection with a pandemic, including COVID-19, operations may be negatively impacted, potentially materially adversely affecting our liquidity, financial condition or results of operations. In addition, any report or publicity linking our restaurants to instances of pandemic illness exposure could adversely impact our brand and reputation as well as our revenue and profits. Our suppliers could also be adversely impacted by a pandemic, such as COVID-19. If our suppliers’ employees are unable to work or our suppliers' operations are disrupted, we and our franchisees could face shortages of food items or other supplies, and our and our franchisees' operations and sales could be materially adversely impacted by such supply interruptions.
If the business interruptions caused by a pandemic, including COVID-19, last longer than we expect, we or our franchisees may need to seek additional sources of liquidity. There can be no guarantee that additional liquidity, whether through the credit markets or government programs, will be readily available or available on favorable terms to our franchisees or us. The ultimate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, or pandemics in the future, on the Company’s operations is unknown and will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted with confidence, including the duration of the COVID-19 or other pandemic, the rate at which vaccinations become available, and any additional preventative and protective actions that governments, or the Company, may direct, which may result in an extended period of continued business disruption, reduced customer traffic, and reduced operations.
Our expansion into new and existing markets may present increased risks.
Some of our new restaurants are located in markets where there may be limited or no market recognition of our brand. Those markets may have competitive conditions, consumer tastes and discretionary spending patterns that are different from those in our existing markets, and we may encounter well-established competitors with substantially greater financial resources than us. As a result, those new restaurants may be less successful than restaurants in our existing markets.
We may need to build brand awareness in new markets through greater investments in advertising and promotional activity than we originally planned, which could negatively impact the profitability of our operations in such new markets. Our franchisees may find it more difficult in new markets to hire, motivate and keep qualified employees who can project our vision, passion and culture. In addition, we may have difficulty finding reliable suppliers or distributors or ones that can provide us, either initially or over time, with adequate supplies of ingredients meeting our quality standards. Restaurants opened in new markets may also have lower average restaurant sales than restaurants opened in existing markets and may take longer to, or fail to, ramp up and reach expected sales and profit levels. Additionally, new markets may have higher rents and labor rates. These factors could negatively impact our unit economics and overall profitability.
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We also intend to continue opening new franchised restaurants in our existing markets as a core part of our growth strategy. As a result, the opening of a new restaurant in or near markets in which our restaurants already exist could adversely affect the sales of our existing restaurants.
Our success depends on our ability to compete with many other restaurants.
The restaurant industry in general, and the fast casual category in particular, are intensely competitive, and we compete with many well-established restaurant companies on the basis of food taste and quality, price, service, value, location, convenience, and overall customer experience. Our competitors include individual restaurants and restaurant chains that range from independent local operators to well-capitalized national and regional restaurant companies, including restaurants offering chicken wing products, as well as dine-in, carry-out, and delivery services offering other types of food.
As our competitors expand their operations or as new competitors enter the industry, we expect competition to intensify. Should our competitors increase their spending on advertising and promotions or if their advertising and promotions are more effective, we could experience a loss of customer traffic to our competitors and a material adverse effect on our results of operations. We compete with other restaurant chains and other retail businesses for quality site locations, management, hourly employees, and qualified franchisees. We also face the risk that new or existing competitors will copy our business model, menu options, presentation, or ambiance, among other things. Consumer tastes, nutritional and dietary trends, traffic patterns, and the type, number, and location of competing restaurants often affect the restaurant business, and our competitors may react more efficiently and effectively to those conditions.
Moreover, we may also compete with companies outside the fast casual, quick service, and casual dining segments of the restaurant industry, such as deli sections and in-store cafés of several major grocery store chains and from home delivery meal plan services, as well as from convenience stores and other dining outlets. These competitors may have, among other things, a more diverse menu, lower operating costs, better locations, better facilities, better management, more effective marketing, more efficient operations, stronger brand recognition, loyal customer base and more convenient offerings than we have. If we are unable to compete effectively, it could decrease our traffic, sales and profit margins, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Interruptions in the supply of product to company-owned restaurants and franchisees could materially adversely affect our revenue.
In order to maintain quality-control standards and consistency among restaurants, we require through our franchise agreements that our franchisees obtain food and other supplies from preferred suppliers approved by us in advance. In this regard, we and our franchisees depend on a group of suppliers for food ingredients, beverages, paper goods, and distribution. We and our franchisees bear risks associated with the timeliness, solvency, reputation, labor relations, freight costs, price of raw materials, and compliance with health and safety standards of each supplier. We have little control over such suppliers. Disruptions in these relationships may reduce company-owned restaurant and franchisee sales and, in the case of reduced franchisee sales, our royalty income. Overall difficulty of suppliers meeting restaurant product demand, interruptions in the supply chain, obstacles or delays in the process of renegotiating or renewing agreements with preferred suppliers, financial difficulties experienced by suppliers, or the deficiency, lack, or poor quality of alternative suppliers could adversely impact company-owned restaurant and franchisee sales, which could materially adversely affect our business and operating results and, in the case of reduced franchisee sales, would reduce our royalty income and revenue. In addition, our focus on a limited menu could make these consequences more severe.
Our operating results may fluctuate significantly and could fall below the expectations of securities analysts and investors due to certain factors, some of which are beyond our control, resulting in a decline in our stock price.
Our operating results may fluctuate significantly because of a number of factors, including:
the timing of new restaurant openings;
profitability of our restaurants, especially in new markets;
changes in interest rates;
increases and decreases in average weekly sales and same store sales, including due to the timing and popularity of sporting and other events;
macroeconomic conditions, globally, nationally and locally;
changes in consumer preferences and competitive conditions;
increases in infrastructure costs; and
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fluctuations in commodity prices.
Accordingly, results for any one fiscal quarter or year are not necessarily indicative of results to be expected for any other fiscal quarter or year and our results for any particular future period may decrease compared to the prior period. In the future, operating results may fall below the expectations of securities analysts and investors. In that event, the price of our common stock would likely decrease.
Cyber incidents or deficiencies in cybersecurity could negatively impact our business by causing data loss, a disruption to our operations, a compromise or corruption of confidential or personal information, damage to our employee and business relationships and reputation, and/or litigation and liability, all of which could subject us to loss and harm our brand.
As our reliance on technology has increased, so have the risks posed to our systems, both internal and those we have outsourced. Additionally, there has been an increase in data integration and complexity of our technology systems, particularly in our international markets. The use of electronic payment methods and the collection and storage of personal information from individuals expose us and our franchisees to increased risk of cyber incidents, privacy and/or security breaches, and other risks. We rely on commercially available systems, software, tools and monitoring to provide security for processing, transmitting, and storing such information. The use of personally identifiable information by us is regulated by foreign, federal, and state laws, which continue to evolve, as well as by certain third-party agreements. As privacy and information security laws and regulations change, we may incur additional costs to ensure that we remain in compliance with those laws and regulations. See "Changing regulations relating to privacy, information security, and data protection could increase our costs, affect or limit how we collect and use personal information” below for a further discussion on privacy, information security, and data protection regulations.
Our franchisees, contractors and third parties with whom we do business have experienced cyber incidents and security breaches in which confidential or personal information could have been stolen and we, our franchisees, contractors and third parties with whom we do business may experience cyber incidents and security breaches in which confidential or personal information is stolen in the future. Third parties may have the technology or know-how to breach the security of confidential or personal information collected, stored or transmitted by us or our franchisees, and our and their security measures and those of third parties with whom we do business, including technology vendors, solution providers, software manufacturers and supply chain vendors, may not effectively prohibit others from obtaining improper access to this information. Third parties also may be able to develop and deploy viruses, worms and other malicious software programs, such as ransomware, that attack our, our franchisees’ and third parties with whom we do business’s systems or otherwise exploit any security vulnerabilities.The techniques used to obtain unauthorized access, disable or degrade service, or sabotage systems change frequently and are often difficult to detect for long periods of time, which may cause a breach to go undetected for an extensive period of time. Advances in computer and software capabilities, technology, new tools, and other developments may increase the risk of such a breach. If a person is able to circumvent the security measures of our business, our franchisees’ businesses or those of other third parties, he or she could destroy or steal valuable information or disrupt the operations of our business. In addition, our franchisees, contractors or third parties with whom we do business or to whom we outsource business operations may attempt to circumvent our security measures in order to misappropriate confidential information and may purposefully or inadvertently cause a breach involving such information. Furthermore, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have allowed our team members in our corporate headquarters to work from home. The significant increase in remote working, particularly for an extended period of time, could increase certain risks to our business, including an increased risk of cybersecurity events, vulnerability of our systems and improper dissemination of confidential or personal information, if our physical and cybersecurity measures or our corporate policies are not effective. The costs to us to eliminate any of the foregoing cybersecurity vulnerabilities or to address a cyber incident could be significant and have material adverse impact on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
If our employees, franchisees, or vendors fail to comply with applicable laws, regulations, or contract terms, and this information is obtained by unauthorized persons, used inappropriately, or destroyed, it could adversely affect our reputation, could disrupt our operations and result in costly litigation, judgments, or penalties resulting from violation of laws and payment card industry regulations. Any such claim or proceeding could cause us to incur significant unplanned expenses and significantly harm our reputation, which could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. A cyber incident could also require us to provide notifications, result in adverse publicity, loss of sales and profits, increase fees payable to third parties, and result in penalties or remediation and other costs that could materially adversely affect the operation of our business and results of operations. In addition, our cyber liability coverage may be inadequate or may not be available in the future on acceptable terms, or at all, and defending a suit, regardless of its merit, could be costly and divert management’s attention.
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Our increasing reliance on debit or credit cards for payment increases the risk of regulatory compliance and security breaches, which could materially adversely impact our business or results of operations.
The majority of our restaurant sales are paid by credit or debit cards. In connection with credit or debit card transactions in-restaurant, we and our franchisees collect and transmit confidential information to card processors. The systems currently used for transmission and approval of electronic payment transactions, and the technology utilized in electronic payments themselves, all of which can put electronic payment at risk, are determined and controlled by the payment card industry, not by us, through enforcement of compliance with the Payment Card Industry - Data Security Standards (as modified from time to time, "PCI DSS"). We and our franchisees must abide by the PCI DSS in order to accept electronic payment transactions. If we or our franchisees fail to abide by the PCI DSS, we or our franchisees could be subject to fines, penalties or litigation, which could adversely impact our results of operations. Furthermore, the payment card industry is requiring vendors to become compatible with smart chip technology for payment cards, or EMV-Compliant, or else bear full responsibility for certain fraud losses, referred to as the EMV Liability Shift. To become EMV-Compliant, merchants often utilize EMV-Compliant payment card terminals at the POS and obtain a variety of certifications. At present, many of our company-owned and franchised restaurants have not upgraded their POS systems to include such EMV-Compliant payment card terminals and as a result, may be at increased risk for breaches, which could materially adversely affect our business and operating results. We may become subject to claims for purportedly fraudulent transactions arising out of the actual or alleged theft of credit or debit card information, and we may also be subject to lawsuits or other proceedings relating to these types of incidents.
Changing regulations relating to privacy, information security and data protection could increase our costs and affect or limit how we collect and use personal information.
The United States, the European Union, and other countries in which we operate are increasingly adopting or revising privacy, information security, and data protection laws and regulations that could have a significant impact on our current and planned privacy, data protection, and information security-related practices, our collection, use, sharing, retention, and safeguarding of consumer and/or employee information, and some of our current or planned business activities. In the United States, these include rules and regulations promulgated under the authority of the FTC, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, federal and state labor and employment laws, state data breach notification laws, and state privacy laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018. Many of these laws and regulations provide consumers and employees with a private right of action if a covered company suffers a data breach related to a failure to implement reasonable data security measures. In the European Union, this includes the General Data Protection Regulation. The legal framework around privacy issues is rapidly evolving, as various federal and state government bodies are considering adopting new privacy laws and regulations. These laws and regulations could result in significant limitations on or changes to the ways in which we can collect, use, host, store, or transmit personal information and other data. Compliance with privacy, data protection, and information security laws to which we are subject could result in additional costs, and our failure to comply with such laws could result in potentially significant regulatory investigations or government actions, penalties or remediation, and other costs, as well as adverse publicity, loss of sales and profits, and an increase in fees payable to third parties. Each of these implications could materially adversely affect our revenues, results of operations, business, and financial condition.
We and our franchisees rely on computer systems to process transactions and manage our business, and a disruption or a failure of such systems or technology could harm our ability to effectively manage our business.
Network and information technology systems are integral to our business. We utilize various computer systems, including our franchisee reporting system, by which our franchisees report their weekly sales and pay their corresponding royalty fees and required Ad Fund contributions. This system is critical to our ability to accurately track sales and compute and receive royalties and Ad Fund contributions due from our franchisees. We also rely on computer systems and network infrastructure across other areas of our operations, including marketing programs, employee engagement, management of our supply chain and POS processing in our restaurants.
Our operations depend upon our ability to protect our computer equipment and systems against damage from physical theft, fire, power loss, computer, network and telecommunications failure or other catastrophic events, as well as from internal and external security breaches, viruses and other disruptive software, worms, improper usage by employees and other disruptive problems. Any damage or failure of our computer systems or network infrastructure that causes an interruption in our operations could have a material adverse effect on our business and subject us to litigation or actions by regulatory authorities. In addition, such events could result in a need for a costly repair, upgrade or replacement of systems, or a decrease in, or in the collection of, royalties and Ad Fund contributions paid to us by our franchisees. To the extent that any disruption or security breach were to result in a loss of, or damage to, our data or applications, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, we could incur liability which could materially affect our results of operations. It is also critical that we
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establish and maintain certain licensing and software agreements for the software we use in our day-to-day operations. A failure to procure or maintain these licenses could have a material adverse effect on our business operations.
There are risks associated with our increasing dependence on digital commerce platforms to maintain and grow sales, and limitations, disruptions or unavailability of our digital commerce platforms, or our ability to distribute our apps, could harm our ability to compete and conduct our business.
Customers are increasingly using e-commerce websites and apps, both domestically and internationally, like wingstop.com and our mobile ordering application, to order and pay for our products and select optional delivery and curbside services. As a result, we and our franchisees are increasingly reliant on digital ordering and payment for such sales, and portions of our digital commerce platforms depend on third party services, including cloud-based technologies and platforms. Our apps and other digital ordering and payment platforms could be damaged or interrupted by power loss, technological failures, cyber-attacks, other forms of sabotage or acts of God. In addition, the availability, distribution and functionality of our apps and updates to our apps are dependent on mobile app stores and their related policies, terms and conditions. Because we and our franchisees rely on digital orders for a significant portion of our sales, any limitations in functionality, interruptions or unavailability of any of our digital ordering or payment platforms could limit or delay customers’ ability to order through such platforms. Further, if our digital ordering and payment platforms do not meet customers’ expectations in terms of security, speed, attractiveness, or ease of use, customers may be less inclined to return to such platforms. Any such limitation, damage, interruption or unavailability of our digital commerce platforms or failure of those platforms to meet customers’ expectations could materially adversely affect our and our franchisees' sales and our results of operations and financial condition.
Any failure by us or our third-party delivery providers to provide timely and reliable delivery services may materially adversely affect our business and reputation.
As of December 26, 2020, delivery services were available at substantially all Wingstop restaurants throughout the United States. Interruptions or failures in our delivery services could prevent the timely or successful delivery of our products. These interruptions may be due to unforeseen events that are beyond our control or the control of our delivery providers, such as inclement weather, natural disasters, transportation disruptions, sabotage by an outside party, civil protests or labor unrest. In addition, changes in business practices of our delivery providers and governmental regulations could materially adversely impact delivery services and/or profitability.
If our products are not delivered on time and in safe and proper condition, customers may refuse to accept our products and have less confidence in our services, in which case our business and reputation may suffer. If our third-party delivery service providers fail to follow the quality standards or other terms that they agreed to with us, it could result in harm to our business and reputation and could force us to pursue arrangements with alternative delivery service providers, which could result in an interruption to our delivery services. These factors may materially adversely impact our sales and our brand reputation. We also incur additional costs associated with delivery orders, and it is possible that these orders could cannibalize more profitable carry-out or in-restaurant orders.
Uncertainty in the law with respect to the assignment of liabilities in the franchise business model could materially adversely impact our profitability.
One of the legal foundations fundamental to the franchise business model has been that, absent special circumstances, a franchisor is generally not responsible for the acts, omissions, or liabilities of its franchisees, whether with respect to the franchisees’ employees or otherwise. In the last several years, this principle has been the subject of differing and inconsistent interpretations at the National Labor Relations Board and in the courts, and the question of whether a franchisor can be held liable for the actions or liabilities of a franchisee under a vicarious liability theory, sometimes called "joint employer,” has become highly fact dependent and generally uncertain. A determination that we are a "joint employer” with our franchisees or that our franchisees are part of one unified system subject to joint and several liability could subject us and/or our franchisees to liability for employment-related and other liabilities of our franchisees and could cause us to incur other costs that have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.
Our business activities subject us and our franchisees to litigation risk that could subject us to significant money damages and other remedies or by increasing our and our franchisees' litigation expense.
We and our franchisees are, from time to time, the subject of, or potentially the subject of, complaints or litigation, including customer claims, class-action lawsuits, personal-injury claims, environmental claims, intellectual property claims, employee allegations of improper termination and discrimination and claims related to violations of laws, such as the Americans with
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Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), religious freedom laws, the Fair Labor Standards Act, other employment-related laws, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended, advertising laws and state and local "dram shop” laws. Each of these claims may increase our and our franchisees’ costs, limit the funds of our franchisees available to make royalty payments and reduce the execution of new franchise agreements. Litigation against a franchisee or its affiliates by third parties or regulatory agencies, whether in the ordinary course of business or otherwise, may also include claims against us by virtue of our relationship with the defendant-franchisee, whether under vicarious liability, joint employer, or other theories.
Regardless of whether any claim brought against us or a franchisee in the future is valid or whether we or they are liable, such a claim would be expensive to defend and may divert time, money and other valuable resources away from our or their operations and, thereby, hurt our business. In addition, the ability of a defendant-franchisee to make royalty payments in the event of such claims may be decreased and adverse publicity resulting from such allegations may materially adversely affect us and our brand, regardless of whether these allegations are valid or whether we or they are liable. Our international business may be subject to additional risks related to litigation, including difficulties in enforcement of contractual obligations governed by foreign law due to differing interpretations of rights and obligations, compliance with multiple and potentially conflicting laws, new and potentially untested laws and judicial systems, and reduced or diminished protection of intellectual property. A substantial judgment against us could materially adversely affect our business and operating results. Insurance may not be available at all or in sufficient amounts to cover any liabilities with respect to any of these or other matters. A substantial judgment, or judgment or other liability in excess of our or our franchisees’ insurance coverage, resulting from claims could materially adversely affect our business and results of operations.
We may engage in litigation with our franchisees.
Although we believe we generally enjoy a positive working relationship with the vast majority of our franchisees, the nature of the franchisor-franchisee relationship may give rise to litigation with our franchisees. In the ordinary course of business, we are the subject of complaints or litigation from franchisees, usually related to alleged breaches of contract or wrongful termination under the franchise arrangements. We may also engage in future litigation with franchisees to enforce the terms of our franchise agreements and compliance with our brand standards as determined necessary to protect our brand, the consistency of our products and the customer experience, or to enforce our contractual indemnification rights if we are brought into a matter involving a third party due to the franchisee’s alleged acts or omissions. In addition, we may be subject to claims by our franchisees relating to our Franchise Disclosure Document ("FDD"), including claims based on financial information contained in our FDD. Engaging in such litigation may be costly and time-consuming and may distract management and materially adversely affect our relationships with franchisees and our ability to attract new franchisees. Any negative outcome of these or any other claims could materially adversely affect our results of operations as well as our ability to expand our franchise system and may damage our reputation and brand. Furthermore, existing and future franchise-related legislation could subject us to additional litigation risk in the event we terminate or fail to renew a franchise relationship.
Our success depends in part upon effective advertising and marketing campaigns, which may not be successful, and franchisee support of such advertising and marketing campaigns.
We believe the Wingstop brand is critical to our business and expend resources in our marketing efforts using a variety of media outlets. We expect to continue to conduct brand awareness programs and customer initiatives to attract and retain customers. Should our advertising and promotions not be effective, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
The support of our franchisees is critical for the success of the advertising and marketing campaigns we seek to undertake, and the successful execution of these campaigns will depend on our ability to maintain alignment with our franchisees. Our franchisees are currently required to contribute specified percentages of their gross sales to certain advertising funds and programs. There can be no assurances that these funds will be sufficient to meet our marketing needs or that additional funds will be provided by our franchisees in the future. The lack of continued financial support for our advertising activities could hinder our marketing efforts, which may adversely affect our business and operating results. While we maintain control over advertising and marketing materials and can mandate certain strategic initiatives pursuant to our franchise agreements, we need the active support of our franchisees if the implementation of these initiatives is to be successful. If our initiatives are not successful, resulting in expenses incurred without the benefit of higher revenue, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
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We are vulnerable to changes in consumer preferences and regulation of consumer eating habits that could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flow.
Consumer preferences and eating habits often change rapidly and without warning, moving from one trend to another among many product or retail concepts. We depend on some of these trends, including the trend regarding away-from-home or take-out dining. Consumer preferences towards away-from-home and take-out dining or certain food products might shift as a result of, among other things, new information, attitudes regarding diet and health concerns or dietary trends related to cholesterol, carbohydrate, fat and salt content of certain food items, including chicken wings, in favor of foods that are perceived as healthier. Our menu is currently comprised primarily of chicken wings and fries, and a change in consumer preferences away from these offerings would have a material adverse effect on our business. Negative publicity over the health aspects of, or animal welfare or other social or environmental concerns related to, the food items we sell may adversely affect demand for our menu items and could have a material adverse effect on traffic, sales and results of operations.
Regulations may also continue to change as a result of new information and attitudes regarding diet and health. These changes may include regulations that impact the ingredients and nutritional content of our menu items. The federal government and a number of states, counties and cities, have enacted laws requiring multi-unit restaurant operators to make certain nutritional information available to customers and/or legislation prohibiting the sales of certain types of ingredients in restaurants. If our customers perceive our menu items to contain unhealthy caloric, sugar, sodium, or fat content, our results of operations could be adversely affected. The success of our restaurant operations depends, in part, upon our ability to effectively respond to changes in consumer preferences and eating habits, negative publicity and consumer health and disclosure regulations and to adapt our menu offerings to fit the dietary needs, preferences and eating habits of our customers without sacrificing flavor. To the extent we are unable to respond with appropriate changes to our menu offerings, it could materially adversely affect customer traffic and our results of operations. Furthermore, any change in our menu could result in a decrease in existing customer traffic.
Because many of our restaurants are concentrated in certain geographic areas, we are susceptible to economic and other trends and developments, including adverse weather conditions, in these areas.
As of December 26, 2020, 55% of our 1,359 domestic restaurants were spread across Texas (28%), California (21%) and Illinois (6%). Given our geographic concentrations, economic conditions and other unforeseen events, including but not limited to negative publicity, local strikes, terrorist attacks, increases in energy prices, natural or man-made disasters, adverse weather conditions or the enactment of more stringent state and local laws and regulations in these areas, could have a disproportionate adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
Our business is subject to various laws and regulations and changes in such laws and regulations, and/or our failure to comply with existing or future laws and regulations, could materially adversely affect us.
We are subject to certain state franchise registration requirements, the rules and regulations of the FTC and various state laws regulating the offer and sale of franchises in the United States through the provision of franchise disclosure documents containing certain mandatory disclosures, various state laws regulating the franchise relationship, and certain rules and requirements regulating franchising arrangements in foreign countries. Noncompliance with applicable laws, regulatory requirements and governmental guidelines regulating franchising could reduce anticipated royalty income, which in turn could materially adversely affect our business and operating results.
We and our franchisees are subject to various existing U.S. federal, state, local, and foreign laws affecting the operation of restaurants and the sale of food and alcoholic beverages, including various license and permit requirements, health, sanitation, fire, and safety standards. We and our franchisees may in the future become subject to regulation (or further regulation) seeking to tax or regulate high-fat foods, to limit the serving size of beverages containing sugar, to ban the use of certain packaging materials, or to require the display of detailed nutrition information. Each of these regulations would be costly to comply with and/or could result in reduced demand for our products. The failure of our restaurants to comply with applicable regulations and obtain and maintain required licenses, permits, and approvals (including those for the sale of alcoholic beverages) could adversely affect our existing restaurants and delay or result in our decision to cancel the opening of new restaurants, which would materially adversely affect our results of operations.
We and our franchisees may also have a substantial number of hourly employees who are required to be paid pursuant to applicable federal or state minimum wage laws. From time to time, various federal and state legislators have proposed or approved changes to the minimum wage requirements, especially for fast-food workers. These and any future similar increases in other regions in which our restaurants operate will increase the cost of labor and may negatively affect our and our franchisees profit margins as we and our franchisees may be unable to increase our menu prices in order to pass future
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increased labor costs on to our guests. Also, reduced margins of franchisees could make it more difficult to sell franchises. If menu prices are increased by us and our franchisees to cover increased labor costs, the higher prices could adversely affect transactions which could lower sales and thereby reduce our margins and the royalties that we receive from franchisees.
Although we require all workers in our company-owned restaurants and in our corporate support office to provide us with government-specified documentation evidencing their employment eligibility, some of our employees may, without our knowledge, be unauthorized workers. We currently participate in the "E-Verify” program, an Internet-based, free program run by the U.S. government to verify employment eligibility, in all of our company-owned restaurants and in our corporate support office. However, use of the "E-Verify” program does not guarantee that we will successfully identify all applicants who are ineligible for employment. Unauthorized workers may subject us to fines or penalties, and if any of our workers are found to be unauthorized, we could experience adverse publicity that negatively impacts our brand and it may be more difficult to hire and keep qualified employees. We could also become subject to fines, penalties and other costs related to claims that we did not fully comply with all recordkeeping obligations of federal and state employment eligibility or immigration compliance laws. Failure by our franchisees to comply with employment eligibility or immigration laws may also result in adverse publicity and reputational harm to our brand and could subject them to fines, penalties and other costs. These factors could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
The impact of current laws and regulations, the effect of future changes in laws or regulations that impose additional requirements and the consequences of litigation relating to current or future laws and regulations, or our inability to respond effectively to significant regulatory or public policy issues, could increase our compliance and other costs of doing business and therefore have an adverse effect on our results of operations. Failure to comply with the laws and regulatory requirements of federal, state, local and foreign authorities could result in, among other things, revocation of required licenses, administrative enforcement actions, fines and civil and criminal liability. In addition, certain laws, including the ADA, could require us or our franchisees to expend significant funds to make modifications to our restaurants if we fail to comply with applicable standards. Compliance with all of these laws and regulations can be costly and can increase our exposure to litigation or governmental investigations or proceedings.
Our current insurance and the insurance of our franchisees may not provide adequate levels of coverage against claims.
We currently maintain insurance customary for businesses of our size and type. However, there are types of losses we may incur that cannot be insured against or that we believe are not economically reasonable to insure. Such losses could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
Our franchise agreements require each franchisee to maintain certain insurance types and levels. Certain extraordinary hazards, however, may not be covered, and insurance may not be available (or may be available only at prohibitively expensive rates) with respect to many other risks. Moreover, any loss incurred could exceed policy limits and policy payments made to franchisees may not be made on a timely basis. Any such loss or delay in payment could have a material adverse effect on a franchisee’s ability to satisfy obligations under the franchise agreement, including the ability to make royalty payments.
We also require franchisees to maintain general liability insurance coverage to protect against the risk of product liability and other risks and demand strict franchisee compliance with health and safety regulations. However, franchisees may receive or produce defective food or beverage products, which may materially adversely affect our brand’s goodwill and our business. Further, a franchisee’s failure to comply with health and safety regulations, including requirements relating to food quality or preparation, could subject them, and possibly us, to litigation. Any litigation, including the imposition of fines or damage awards, could exceed or be excluded from insurance coverage, and, as a result, adversely affect the ability of a franchisee to make royalty payments or could generate negative publicity or otherwise adversely affect us.
Damage to our reputation could negatively impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We believe we have built our reputation on the high quality and bold, distinctive, and craveable flavors of our food, value, and service, and we must protect and grow the value of our brand to continue to be successful in the future. Any incident that erodes consumer affinity for our brand could significantly reduce its value and damage our business. For example, our brand value could suffer and our business could be adversely affected if customers perceive a reduction in the quality of our food, value, or service or otherwise believe we have failed to deliver a consistently positive experience. We may also be adversely affected by customers’ experiences with third-party delivery from our restaurants.
We may be adversely affected by news reports or other negative publicity, regardless of their accuracy, regarding food quality issues, public health concerns, illness, safety, injury, security breaches of confidential guest or employee information, employee related claims relating to alleged employment discrimination, wage and hour violation, labor standards or health care and
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benefit issues, or government or industry findings concerning our restaurants, restaurants operated by other food service providers, or others across the food industry supply chain. The risks associated with such negative publicity cannot be eliminated or completely mitigated and may materially affect our business.
The availability of information on social media platforms is virtually immediate as is its impact. Many social media platforms immediately publish the content their subscribers and participants can post, often without filters or checks on accuracy of the content posted. The opportunity for dissemination of information, including inaccurate information, is seemingly limitless and readily available. Information concerning us may be posted on such platforms at any time. Information posted may be adverse to our interests and may be inaccurate, each of which may harm our performance, prospects, brand, or business. The harm may be immediate without affording us an opportunity for redress or correction. Negative publicity or incorrect information may materially adversely affect our reputation, business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our expansion into international markets exposes us to a number of risks that may differ in each country where we have franchise restaurants.
As of December 26, 2020, we have franchised restaurants in nine international countries and plan to continue to grow internationally. However, international operations are in early stages. Expansion in international markets may be affected by local economic, market and cultural conditions. Therefore, as we expand internationally, our franchisees may not experience the operating margins we expect, and our results of operations and growth may be materially adversely affected. Our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected if the global markets in which our franchised restaurants compete are affected by changes in political, economic, or other factors. These factors, over which neither our franchisees nor we have control, may include:
recessionary or expansive trends in international markets;
changing labor conditions and difficulties in staffing and managing our foreign operations;
increases in the taxes we pay and other changes in applicable tax laws;
legal and regulatory changes, and the burdens and costs of our compliance with a variety of foreign laws;
changes in inflation rates;
changes in exchange rates and the imposition of restrictions on currency conversion or the transfer of funds;
difficulty in protecting our brand, reputation, and intellectual property;
difficulty in collecting our royalties and longer payment cycles;
expropriation of private enterprises;
anti-American sentiment in certain locations and the identification of the Wingstop brand as an American brand;
the impact of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union;
political and economic instability;
the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other similar anti-bribery and anti-kickback laws; and
other external factors.
Our international expansion efforts may require considerable management time as well as start-up expenses for market development before any significant revenues and earnings are generated. Operations in new foreign markets may achieve low margins or may be unprofitable, and expansion in existing markets may be affected by local economic and market conditions. Therefore, as we continue to expand internationally, we or our franchisees may not experience the operating margins we expect, our results of operations may be negatively impacted, and our common stock price may decline.
We depend upon our executive officers and other key employees and may not be able to retain or replace these individuals or recruit additional personnel, which could harm our business.
We believe that we have already benefited and expect to benefit substantially in the future from the leadership and experience of our executive officers and management team. Additionally, our business strategy includes successfully attracting and retaining talented employees. The market for highly skilled employees and leaders in the restaurant industry is extremely competitive. Our inability to successfully recruit and retain highly-skilled and talented executive officers and other key employees, or successfully execute succession planning, could have a material adverse effect on our business and prospects and impair our growth, as we may not be able to find suitable individuals to replace such personnel on a timely basis. In addition, the departure of any of our executive officers or key employees could be viewed in a negative light by investors and analysts, which could cause the price of our common stock to decline.
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Our failure or inability to enforce our trademarks or other proprietary rights could adversely affect our competitive position or the value of our brand.
We believe that our trademarks and other proprietary rights are important to our success and our competitive position, and, therefore, we devote resources to the protection of our trademarks and proprietary rights. The protective actions that we take, however, may not be enough to prevent unauthorized use or imitation by others, which could harm our image, brand or competitive position. If we commence litigation to enforce our rights, we will incur significant legal fees.
We cannot assure you that third parties will not claim infringement by us of their proprietary rights in the future. Any such claim, whether or not it has merit, could be time-consuming and distracting for executive management, result in costly litigation, cause changes to existing menu items or delays in introducing new menu items, or require us to enter into royalty or licensing agreements. As a result, any such claim could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
Risks Related to our Indebtedness
The terms of our securitized debt financing through certain of our wholly-owned subsidiaries include restrictive terms, and our failure to comply with any of these terms could result in a default, which would have a material adverse effect on our business and prospects.
Unless and until we repay all outstanding borrowings under our securitized debt facility, we will remain subject to the restrictive terms of these borrowings. The securitized debt facility, under which certain of our wholly-owned subsidiaries issued and guaranteed fixed rate notes and variable funding notes, contain a number of covenants, with the most significant financial covenant being a debt service coverage calculation. These covenants limit our ability and the ability of certain of our subsidiaries to, among other things:
incur additional indebtedness;
alter the business we conduct;
make certain changes to the composition of our management team;
pay dividends and make other restrictive payments beyond specified levels;
create or permit liens;
dispose of certain assets;
make certain investments;
engage in certain transactions with affiliates; and
consolidate, merge or transfer all or substantially all of our assets.
The securitized debt facility also requires us to maintain specified financial ratios. Our ability to meet these financial ratios can be affected by events beyond our control, and we may not satisfy such a test. A breach of these covenants could result in a rapid amortization event or default under the securitized debt facility. If amounts owed under the securitized debt facility are accelerated because of a default and we are unable to pay such amounts, the investors may have the right to assume control of substantially all of the securitized assets. In the event that a rapid amortization event occurs under the indenture governing the securitized debt (including, without limitation, upon an event of default under the indenture or the failure to repay the securitized debt at the end of the applicable term), the funds available to us would be reduced or eliminated, which would in turn reduce our ability to operate or grow our business and materially adversely affect our results of operations.
If we are unable to refinance or repay amounts under the securitized debt facility prior to the expiration of the applicable term, our cash flow would be directed to the repayment of the securitized debt and, other than management fees sufficient to cover minimal selling, general and administrative expenses, would not be available for operating our business. No assurance can be given that any refinancing or additional financing will be possible when needed or that we will be able to negotiate acceptable terms. In addition, our access to capital is affected by prevailing conditions in the financial and capital markets and other factors beyond our control. There can be no assurance that market conditions will be favorable at the times that we require new or additional financing.
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We may be unable to generate sufficient cash flow to satisfy our significant debt service obligations, which would materially adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Our ability to make principal and interest payments on and to refinance our indebtedness will depend on our ability to generate cash in the future, which, to a certain extent, is subject to general economic, financial, competitive, legislative, regulatory, and other factors that are beyond our control. If our business does not generate sufficient cash flow from operations, in the amounts projected or at all, or if future borrowings are not available to us under our variable funding notes in amounts sufficient to fund our other liquidity needs, our financial condition and results of operations may be materially adversely affected. If we cannot generate sufficient cash flow from operations to make scheduled principal amortization and interest payments on our debt obligations in the future, we may need to refinance all or a portion of our indebtedness on or before maturity, sell assets, delay capital expenditures, or seek additional equity investments.
Risks Related to Ownership of our Common Stock
Our stock price may be volatile or may decline regardless of our operating performance.
The market price of our common stock may fluctuate significantly in response to a number of factors, most of which we cannot control, including those described under "Risks Related to Our Business and Our Industry” and the following:
potential fluctuation in our annual or quarterly operating results;
changes in capital market conditions that could affect valuations of restaurant companies in general or our goodwill in particular or other adverse economic conditions;
changes in financial estimates by any securities analysts who follow our common stock, our failure to meet these estimates or failure of those analysts to initiate or maintain coverage of our common stock;
downgrades by any securities analysts who follow our common stock;
future sales of our common stock by our officers, directors and significant stockholders;
global economic, legal and regulatory factors unrelated to our performance;
investors’ perceptions of our prospects;
announcements by us or our competitors of significant contracts, acquisitions, joint ventures or capital commitments; and
investor perceptions of the investment opportunity associated with our common stock relative to other investment alternatives.
In addition, the stock markets, and in particular Nasdaq, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have affected and continue to affect the market prices of equity securities of many food service companies. In the past, stockholders have instituted securities class action litigation following periods of market volatility. If we were involved in securities litigation, we could incur substantial costs and our resources and the attention of management could be diverted from our business.
Anti-takeover provisions in our charter documents and under Delaware law could make an acquisition of us more difficult, limit attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management and limit the market price of our common stock.
Provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws may have the effect of delaying or preventing a change of control or changes in our management. Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws include provisions that:
authorize our board of directors to issue, without further action by the stockholders, up to 15,000,000 shares of undesignated preferred stock;
require that any action to be taken by our stockholders be effected at a duly called annual or special meeting and not by written consent;
specify that special meetings of our stockholders can be called only upon the request of a majority of our board of directors or by the chairman of the board of directors;
establish an advance notice procedure for stockholder proposals to be brought before an annual meeting, including proposed nominations of persons for election to our board of directors;
establish that our board of directors is divided into three classes, with each class serving staggered three-year terms; and
prohibit cumulative voting in the election of directors.
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These provisions may frustrate or prevent any attempts by our stockholders to replace or remove our current management by making it more difficult for stockholders to replace members of our board of directors, which is responsible for appointing the members of our management, and may discourage, delay or prevent a transaction involving a change of control of our company that is in the best interest of our minority stockholders. Even in the absence of a takeover attempt, the existence of these provisions may adversely affect the prevailing market price of our common stock if stockholders view them as discouraging future takeover attempts. In addition, we have opted out of the Delaware General Corporation Law ("DGCL”) Section 203, relating to business combinations with interested stockholders, but our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that engaging in any of a broad range of business combinations with any "interested” stockholder (any stockholder with 15% or more of our capital stock) for a period of three years following the date on which the stockholder became an "interested” stockholder is prohibited, subject to certain exceptions.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation designates the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware as the sole and exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that, unless we consent in writing to an alternative forum, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware will be the sole and exclusive forum, to the fullest extent permitted by law, for (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, (ii) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers and employees to us or our stockholders, (iii) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the DGCL, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws or (iv) any action asserting a claim that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine, in each case subject to the Court of Chancery having personal jurisdiction over the indispensable parties named as defendants therein. Any person purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in any shares of our capital stock shall be deemed to have notice of and to have consented to this provision of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation. This choice of forum provision may limit our stockholders’ ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees, which may discourage such lawsuits against us and our directors, officers and employees even though an action, if successful, might benefit our stockholders. Stockholders who do bring a claim in the Court of Chancery could face additional litigation costs in pursuing any such claim. The Court of Chancery may also reach different judgments or results than would other courts, including courts where a stockholder considering an action may be located or would otherwise choose to bring the action, and such judgments or results may be more favorable to us than to our stockholders. In addition, the enforceability of similar choice of forum provisions in other companies’ certificates of incorporation has been challenged in legal proceedings, and it is possible that, in connection with any applicable action brought against us, a court could find the choice of forum provisions contained in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation to be inapplicable or unenforceable in such action.
We may not continue to declare cash dividends in the future.
In August 2017, we announced that our board of directors authorized a regular dividend program under which we have paid, and intend to continue paying, quarterly dividends on our common stock, subject to quarterly declarations by our board of directors. In addition, we have paid special dividends in connection with refinancings of our indebtedness. Any future declarations of dividends, as well as the amount and timing of such dividends, are subject to capital availability and the discretion of our board of directors, which must evaluate, among other things, whether cash dividends are in the best interest of our stockholders and are in compliance with all applicable laws and any agreements containing provisions that limit our ability to declare and pay cash dividends.
Our ability to pay dividends in the future will depend upon, among other factors, our cash balances and potential future capital requirements, debt service requirements, earnings, financial condition, the general economic and regulatory climate and other factors beyond our control that our board of directors may deem relevant. Our dividend payments may change from time to time, and we may not continue to declare dividends in the future. A reduction in or elimination of our dividend payments could have a negative effect on our stock price.
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Item 1B.Unresolved Staff Comments

None.
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Item 2.Properties
During fiscal year 2019, we purchased an office building in Addison, Texas, which contains approximately 78,000 square feet of office space. The building is currently undergoing renovation in order to prepare it for use as our corporate headquarters. We also lease approximately 43,000 square feet of office space located in Dallas, Texas under an operating lease with a third-party landlord.
All company-owned restaurants are leased by us, typically under five- to ten-year leases with one or two five-year renewal options, often contain rent escalation provisions, and generally require us to pay a proportionate share of real estate taxes, insurance and common area and other operating costs in addition to base or fixed rent. All domestic and international franchise restaurants are leased or owned directly by the respective franchisees. We believe that our existing headquarters and other leased and owned facilities are adequate to meet our current requirements.

Due to lower square footage requirements, our restaurants can be located in a variety of locations. They tend to be located primarily in shopping centers, as in-line or end-cap locations. Our restaurants generally occupy approximately 1,700 square feet of leased retail space. As of December 26, 2020, we and our franchisees operated 1,538 restaurants in 44 states and 10 countries.

Item 3.Legal Proceedings
From time to time we may be involved in claims and legal actions that arise in the ordinary course of business. To our knowledge, there are no material pending legal proceedings to which we are a party or of which any of our property is the subject.

Item 4.Mine Safety Disclosures

Not applicable.
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PART II


Item 5.Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Our common stock trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol "WING”.
As of February 16, 2021, there were 5 stockholders of record of our common stock. This number excludes stockholders whose stock is held in nominee or street name by brokers.
Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities
There were no sales of unregistered securities during the fiscal year ended December 26, 2020 that were not previously reported on a Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q or a Current Report on Form 8-K.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
We did not repurchase any of our equity securities during the fourth quarter of the fiscal year ended December 26, 2020.
Performance Graph
The following performance graph compares the dollar change in the cumulative stockholder return on our common stock with the cumulative total returns of the NASDAQ Composite Index and the S&P 600 Restaurants Index. This graph assumes a $100 investment in our common stock and in each of the foregoing indices on December 26, 2015, and assumes the reinvestment of dividends, if any. The indices are included for comparative purposes only. They do not necessarily reflect management’s opinion that such indices are an appropriate measure of the relative performance of our common stock, and historical stock price performance should not be relied upon as an indication of future stock price performance. This graph is furnished and not "filed” with the SEC and it is not "soliciting material”, and should not be incorporated by reference in any of our filings under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act, whether made before or after the date hereof and irrespective of any general incorporation language in such filing.
wing-20201226_g1.jpg

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Dividends on Common Stock
Please refer to "Note 3 - Dividends” of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements for information on dividends declared and paid in the fiscal years ended December 26, 2020 and December 28, 2019.
On February 16, 2021, the Company’s board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.14 per share of common stock, to be paid on March 26, 2021 to stockholders of record as of March 5, 2021, totaling approximately $4.2 million.
We evaluate dividend payments on common stock within the context of our overall capital allocation strategy with our board of directors on an ongoing basis, giving consideration to our current and forecast earnings, financial condition, cash requirements and other factors. There can be no assurance that we will continue to pay such dividends or the amount of such dividends.
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Item 6.Selected Financial Data

Pursuant to the early adoption of SEC Final Rule Release No. 33-10890, Management’s Discussion and Analysis, Selected Financial Data, and Supplementary Financial Information, the Company has elected to omit Item 6. Selected Financial Data.
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Item 7.
Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
This Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations ("MD&A”) should be read in conjunction with the accompanying audited consolidated financial statements and notes. Forward-looking statements in this MD&A are not guarantees of future performance and may involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Refer to "Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements" elsewhere in this report and Item 1A. Risk Factors for a discussion of these risks and uncertainties.
A comparison of our results of operations and cash flows for fiscal year 2019 compared to fiscal year 2018 can be found under "Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 28, 2019, filed with the SEC on February 19, 2020.
Overview
Wingstop is the largest fast casual chicken wings-focused restaurant chain in the world and has demonstrated strong, consistent growth. As of December 26, 2020, we had a total 1,538 restaurants in our system. Our restaurant base is 98% franchised, with 1,506 franchised locations (including 179 international locations) and 32 company-owned restaurants as of December 26, 2020. We generate revenues by charging royalties, advertising fees and franchise fees to our franchisees and by operating a number of our own restaurants.
Historically, the Company had two reporting segments: franchise operations and company restaurant operations. In accordance with Accounting Standards Codification 280 "Segment Reporting”, the Company uses the management approach for determining its reportable segments. The management approach is based upon the way management reviews performance and allocates resources. During the second fiscal quarter of 2020, the Company reevaluated its operating segments and determined it has one operating segment and one reporting segment due to changes in how the Company’s chief operating decision maker assesses the Company’s performance and allocates resources.
We plan to grow our business by opening new franchised restaurants and increasing our same store sales, while leveraging our franchise model to create shareholder value. Domestic same store sales have increased for 17 consecutive years beginning in 2004, which includes 5-year cumulative domestic same stores sales growth of 44.8% since the beginning of fiscal year 2016. We believe our asset-light, highly-franchised business model generates strong operating margins and requires low capital expenditures, creating shareholder value through strong and consistent free cash flow and capital-efficient growth.
Impact of COVID-19
In March 2020, the novel coronavirus ("COVID-19") outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, significantly changing consumer behaviors as individuals are being encouraged to practice social distancing. This pandemic led to restaurants reducing restaurant seating capacity, and in some cases restaurant closures, due to various restrictions mandated by governments around the world. As of March 16, 2020, we made the decision to close our domestic dining rooms and limit our service to carryout and delivery only. Several of our international franchisees also closed their dining rooms as a result of the outbreak. Our domestic business was well-positioned for the transition to largely off-premise dining that has resulted from the outbreak. As a result of the required changes to consumer behavior to largely off-premise dining, as well as promotional activities associated with delivery, we experienced an increase in domestic same store sales growth through the end of the fourth quarter of 2020. Our international markets, which have historically had a higher mix of dine-in sales, have seen an overall decline in same store sales growth due to the required closure of dining rooms and, in some cases, temporary restaurant closures.
Highlights for Fiscal Year 2020:
System-wide restaurant count increased 11.0% over the prior fiscal year to a total of 1,538 worldwide locations, driven by 153 net unit openings;
Domestic same store sales increased 21.4% over the prior fiscal year;
Company-owned restaurant same store sales increased 14.2% over the prior fiscal year;
Digital sales increased to 62.5% over the prior fiscal year;
Domestic restaurant AUV increased to approximately $1.5 million;
System-wide sales increased 28.8% over the prior fiscal year to approximately $2.0 billion;
Total revenue increased 24.6% over the prior fiscal year to $248.8 million; and
Net income increased 13.8% over the prior fiscal year to $23.3 million, or $0.78 per diluted share, compared to $20.5 million, or $0.69 per diluted share in the prior fiscal year. Adjusted net income and adjusted earnings per diluted share
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increased 49.7% over the prior fiscal year to $32.5 million, or $1.09 per diluted share, compared to $21.7 million and $0.73 per diluted share in the prior fiscal year.
Adjusted EBITDA increased 26.1% over the prior fiscal year to $71.9 million.
Key Performance Indicators
Key measures that we use in evaluating our restaurants and assessing our business include the following:
Number of restaurants. Management reviews the number of new restaurants, the number of closed restaurants, and the number of acquisitions and divestitures of restaurants to assess net new restaurant growth, system-wide sales, royalty and franchise fee revenue and company-owned restaurant sales.
Year Ended
December 26,
2020
December 28,
2019
Domestic Franchised Activity:
Beginning of period1,200 1,095 
Openings131 114 
Closures(5)(8)
Acquired by Company(6)(1)
Re-franchised by Company— 
Restaurants end of period1,327 1,200 
Domestic Company-Owned Activity:
Beginning of period31 29 
Openings
Closures— — 
Acquired from franchisees
Re-franchised to franchisees(7)— 
Restaurants end of period32 31 
Total Domestic Restaurants1,359 1,231 
International Franchised Activity:
Beginning of period154 128 
Openings26 31 
Closures(1)(5)
Restaurants end of period179 154 
Total System-wide Restaurants1,538 1,385 
System-wide sales. System-wide sales represents net sales for all of our company-owned and franchised restaurants. This measure allows management to better assess changes in our royalty revenue, our overall store performance, the health of our brand and the strength of our market position relative to competitors. Our system-wide sales growth is driven by new restaurant openings as well as increases in same store sales.
Domestic average unit volume ("AUV”). Domestic AUV consists of the average annual sales of all restaurants that have been open for a trailing 52-week period or longer. This measure is calculated by dividing sales during the applicable period for all restaurants being measured by the number of restaurants being measured. Domestic AUV includes revenue from both company-owned and franchised restaurants. Domestic AUV allows management to assess our domestic company-owned and franchised restaurant economics. Our domestic AUV growth is primarily driven by increases in same store sales and is also influenced by opening new restaurants.
Domestic same store sales. Domestic same store sales reflects the change in year-over-year sales for the same store base. We define the same store base to include those restaurants open for at least 52 full weeks. This measure highlights the performance of existing restaurants, while excluding the impact of new restaurant openings and closures. We review same store sales for
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domestic company-owned restaurants as well as system-wide domestic restaurants. Domestic same store sales growth is driven by increases in transactions and average transaction size. Transaction size increases are driven by price increases or favorable mix shift from either an increase in items purchased or shifts into higher priced items.
EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA. We define EBITDA as net income before interest expense, net, income tax expense, and depreciation and amortization. We define Adjusted EBITDA as net income before interest expense, net, income tax expense, and depreciation and amortization, with further adjustments for losses on debt extinguishment and refinancing transactions, transaction costs, costs and fees associated with investments in our strategic initiatives, gains and losses on the disposal of assets, and stock-based compensation expense. Adjusted EBITDA may not be comparable to other similarly titled captions of other companies due to differences in methods of calculation. For a reconciliation of net income to EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA and for further discussion of EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA as non-GAAP measures and how we utilize them, see footnote 2 below.
Adjusted Net Income and Adjusted Earnings Per Diluted Share. We define Adjusted net income as net income adjusted for losses on debt extinguishment and refinancing transactions, transaction costs, costs and fees associated with investments in our strategic initiatives, gains and losses on the disposal of assets, and related tax adjustments. We define Adjusted earnings per diluted share as Adjusted net income divided by weighted average diluted share count. For a reconciliation of net income to Adjusted net income and for further discussion of Adjusted net income and Adjusted earnings per diluted share as non-GAAP measures and how we utilize them, see footnote 3 below.
The following table sets forth our key performance indicators for the fiscal years ended December 26, 2020 and December 28, 2019 (in thousands, except unit data):
Year ended
December 26, 2020December 28, 2019
Number of system-wide restaurants at period end1,538 1,385 
System-wide sales(1)
$1,950,570 $1,514,590 
Domestic restaurant AUV$1,489 $1,246 
Domestic same store sales growth21.4 %11.1 %
Company-owned domestic same store sales growth14.2 %9.8 %
Total revenue$248,811 $199,676 
Net income$23,306 $20,476 
Adjusted EBITDA(2)
$71,882 $56,989 
Adjusted net income (3)
$32,500 $21,716 

(1) The percentage of system-wide sales attributable to company-owned restaurants was 3.2% and 3.7% for the fiscal years ended December 26, 2020 and December 28, 2019, respectively. The remainder was generated by franchised restaurants, as reported by our franchisees.
(2) EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA are supplemental measures of our performance that are not required by, or presented in accordance with, accounting principles generally accepted in the United States ("GAAP”). EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA should not be considered as an alternative to net income or any other performance measure derived in accordance with GAAP, or as an alternative to cash flows from operating activities as a measure of our liquidity.
We caution investors that amounts presented in accordance with our definitions of EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA may not be comparable to similar measures disclosed by our competitors, because not all companies and analysts calculate EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA in the same manner. We present EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA because we consider them to be important supplemental measures of our performance and believe they are frequently used by securities analysts, investors, and other interested parties in the evaluation of companies in our industry. Management believes that investors’ understanding of our performance is enhanced by including these non-GAAP financial measures as a reasonable basis for comparing our ongoing results of operations. Many investors are interested in understanding the performance of our business by comparing our results from ongoing operations on a period-over-period basis and would ordinarily add back non-cash expenses such as depreciation and amortization, as well as items that are not part of normal day-to-day operations of our business.
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Management uses EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA:
as a measurement of operating performance because they assist us in comparing the operating performance of our restaurants on a consistent basis, as they remove the impact of items not directly resulting from our core operations;
for planning purposes, including the preparation of our internal annual operating budget and financial projections;
to evaluate the performance and effectiveness of our operational strategies;
to evaluate our capacity to fund capital expenditures and expand our business; and
to calculate incentive compensation payments for our employees, including assessing performance under our annual incentive compensation plan and determining the vesting of performance-based equity awards.
By providing these non-GAAP financial measures, together with a reconciliation to the most comparable GAAP measure, we believe we are enhancing investors’ understanding of our business and our results of operations, as well as assisting investors in evaluating how well we are executing our strategic initiatives. In addition, the instruments governing our indebtedness use EBITDA (with additional adjustments) to measure our compliance with covenants, such as our fixed charge coverage, lease adjusted leverage, and debt incurrence. EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA have limitations as analytical tools and should not be considered in isolation, or as an alternative to, or a substitute for net income or other financial statement data presented in our consolidated financial statements as indicators of financial performance. Some of the limitations are:
such measures do not reflect our cash expenditures or future requirements for capital expenditures or contractual commitments;
such measures do not reflect changes in, or cash requirements for, our working capital needs;
such measures do not reflect the interest expense or the cash requirements necessary to service interest or principal payments on our debt;
such measures do not reflect our tax expense or the cash requirements to pay our taxes;
although depreciation and amortization are non-cash charges, the assets being depreciated and amortized will often have to be replaced in the future and such measures do not reflect any cash requirements for such replacements; and
other companies in our industry may calculate such measures differently than we do, limiting their usefulness as comparative measures.
Due to these limitations, EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA should not be considered as measures of discretionary cash available to us to invest in the growth of our business. We compensate for these limitations by relying primarily on our GAAP results and using these non-GAAP measures only supplementally. As noted in the table below, Adjusted EBITDA includes adjustments for losses on debt extinguishment and refinancing transactions, transaction costs, costs and fees associated with investments in our strategic initiatives, gains and losses on the disposal of assets, and stock-based compensation expense. It is reasonable to expect that these items will occur in future periods. However, we believe these adjustments are appropriate because the amounts recognized can vary significantly from period to period, do not directly relate to the ongoing operations of our restaurants, and complicate comparisons of our internal operating results and operating results of other restaurant companies over time. Each of the normal recurring adjustments and other adjustments described in this paragraph and in the reconciliation table below help management measure our core operating performance over time by removing items that are not related to day-to-day operations.
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The following table reconciles net income to EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA for the fiscal years ended December 26, 2020 and December 28, 2019 (in thousands):
Year ended
December 26,
2020
December 28,
2019
Net income$23,306 $20,476 
Interest expense, net16,782 17,136 
Income tax expense3,637 5,289 
Depreciation and amortization7,518 5,484 
EBITDA$51,243 $48,385 
Additional adjustments:
Loss on debt extinguishment and refinancing transactions (a)
13,816 — 
Gain on disposal of assets, net (b)
(3,093)— 
Consulting fees (c)
1,358 1,630 
Stock-based compensation expense (d)
8,558 6,974 
Adjusted EBITDA$71,882 $56,989 

(a) Represents costs and expenses related to the refinancing of our securitized financing facility and payment of a special dividend; all transaction costs are included in Loss on debt extinguishment and refinancing transactions on the Consolidated Statements of Operations, with the exception of $151,000 during the year ended December 26, 2020 that is included in Selling, general and administrative expense on the Consolidated Statements of Operations.
(b) Represents a gain resulting from the re-franchise of company-owned restaurants to franchisees, which is included in Gain on sale of restaurants and other expenses, net on the Consolidated Statements of Operations.
(c) Represents costs and expenses related to consulting projects to support the Company's strategic initiatives, which are included in Selling, general and administrative expense on the Consolidated Statements of Operations.
(d) Includes non-cash, stock-based compensation.
(3) Adjusted net income and adjusted earnings per diluted share are supplemental measures of operating performance that do not represent and should not be considered alternatives to net income and earnings per share, as determined by GAAP. These measures have not been prepared in accordance with Article 11 of Regulation S-X promulgated under the Securities Act. Management believes adjusted net income and adjusted earnings per diluted share supplement GAAP measures and enable management to more effectively evaluate the Company’s performance period-over-period and relative to competitors.
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The following table reconciles net income to Adjusted net income and calculates adjusted earnings per diluted share for the fiscal years ended December 26, 2020 and December 28, 2019 (in thousands):
Year Ended
December 26,
2020
December 28,
2019
Numerator:
Net income$23,306 $20,476 
Adjustments:
Loss on debt extinguishment and refinancing transactions (a)
13,816 — 
Gain on disposal of assets, net (b)
(3,093)— 
Consulting fees (c)
1,358 1,630 
Tax effect of adjustments (d)
(2,887)(390)
Adjusted net income$32,500 $21,716 
Denominator:
Weighted-average shares outstanding - diluted29,804 29,670 
Adjusted earnings per diluted share$1.09 $0.73 

(a) Represents costs and expenses related to the refinancing of our securitized financing facility and payment of a special dividend; all transaction costs are included in Loss on debt extinguishment and refinancing transactions with the exception of $151,000 during the year ended December 26, 2020 that is included in Selling, general and administrative expense on the Consolidated Statements of Operations.
(b) Represents a gain resulting from the re-franchise of company-owned restaurants to franchisees which is included in Gain on sale of restaurants and other expenses, net on the Consolidated Statements of Operations.
(c) Represents costs and expenses related to a consulting project to support the Company's strategic initiatives, which are included in Selling, general and administrative expense on the Consolidated Statements of Operations.
(d) Represents the tax effect of the aforementioned adjustments to reflect corporate income taxes at an assumed effective tax rate of 24% for the periods ended December 26, 2020 and December 28, 2019, which includes provisions for U.S. federal income taxes, and assumes the respective statutory rates for applicable state and local jurisdictions.
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Results of Operations
Year ended December 26, 2020 compared to year ended December 28, 2019
The following table sets forth the Consolidated Statements of Operations for fiscal year 2020 and fiscal year 2019 (in thousands, except for percentages):
Year endedIncrease / (Decrease)
December 26,
2020
December 28,
2019
$%
Revenue:
Royalty revenue, franchise fees and other$108,883 $88,291 $20,592 23.3 %
Advertising fees74,930 55,932 18,998 34.0 %
Company-owned restaurant sales64,998 55,453 9,545 17.2 %
Total revenue248,811 199,676 49,135 24.6 %
Costs and expenses:
Cost of sales (1)
48,583 41,105 7,478 18.2 %
Advertising expenses69,428 52,891 16,537 31.3 %
Selling, general and administrative68,985 57,295 11,690 20.4 %
Depreciation and amortization7,518 5,484 2,034 37.1 %
Gain on sale of restaurants and other expenses, net(3,093)— (3,093)N/A
Total costs and expenses191,421 156,775 34,646 22.1 %
Operating income57,390 42,901 14,489 33.8 %
Interest expense, net16,782 17,136 (354)(2.1)%
Loss on debt extinguishment and refinancing transactions13,665 — 13,665 N/A
Income before income tax expense26,943 25,765 1,178 4.6 %
Income tax expense3,637 5,289 (1,652)(31.2)%
Net income$23,306 $20,476 $2,830 13.8 %


(1)
Cost of sales includes all operating expenses of company-owned restaurants, including advertising expenses, and excludes depreciation and amortization, which are presented separately.

Total Revenue. Total revenue consists of the collection of development fees, franchise fees, royalties, and other fees associated with franchise and development rights, contributions to the Ad Fund, and sales of wings and other food and beverage products by our company-owned restaurants. Total revenue was $248.8 million in fiscal year 2020, an increase of $49.1 million, or 24.6%, compared to $199.7 million in the prior fiscal year. These changes in revenues are more fully described below.
Royalty revenue, franchise fees and other. Royalty revenue and franchise fees were $108.9 million in fiscal year 2020, an increase of $20.6 million, or 23.3%, compared to $88.3 million in the prior fiscal year. Royalty revenue increased by $23.4 million primarily due to 152 net franchise restaurant openings since December 28, 2019 as well as domestic same store sales growth of 21.4%. Other revenue decreased $2.4 million primarily due to contributions received for our franchisee convention that occurred in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Advertising fees. Ad Fund contributions are earned from domestic franchisees based on a percentage of gross sales net of discounts. Ad Fund contributions were equal to 4% in fiscal years 2019 and 2020.
Advertising fees were $74.9 million in fiscal year 2020, an increase of $19.0 million, or 34.0%, compared to $55.9 million in the comparable period in 2019. Advertising fees increased primarily due to the increase in domestic system-wide sales in fiscal year 2020 compared to the prior fiscal year.
Company-owned restaurant sales. Company-owned restaurant sales were $65.0 million in fiscal year 2020, an increase of $9.5 million, or 17.2%, compared to $55.5 million in the prior fiscal year. The increase was primarily due to an increase in company-owned same store sales of 14.2%, which was driven by both an increase in transaction size and transactions, as well as an
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increase in the number of company-owned restaurants. Since the beginning of the prior fiscal year period, we acquired seven company-owned restaurants from franchisees, opened three new company-owned restaurants, and refranchised seven company-owned restaurants to franchisees.
Cost of sales. The table below presents the major components of Cost of sales (in thousands, except for percentages):
Year endedAs a % of company-owned restaurant salesYear endedAs a % of company-owned restaurant sales
December 26,
2020
December 28,
2019
Cost of sales:
Food, beverage and packaging costs23,303 35.9 %20,317 36.6 %
Labor costs15,801 24.3 %12,582 22.7 %
Other restaurant operating expenses10,821 16.6 %9,794 17.7 %
Vendor rebates(1,342)(2.1)%(1,588)(2.9)%
Total cost of sales$48,583 74.7 %$41,105 74.1 %
Food, beverage and packaging costs as a percentage of company-owned restaurant sales were 35.9% in fiscal year 2020 compared to 36.6% in the prior fiscal year. The decrease is primarily due to a 3.3% decrease in the cost of bone-in chicken wings compared to the prior fiscal year.
Labor costs as a percentage of company-owned restaurant sales were 24.3% in fiscal year 2020 compared to 22.7% in the prior fiscal year. The increase as a percentage of company-owned restaurant sales was primarily due to incentive pay provided to team members in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This increase was partially offset by the increase in company-owned domestic same store sales of 14.2%.
Other restaurant operating expenses as a percentage of company-owned restaurant sales were 16.6% in fiscal year 2020 compared to 17.7% in the prior fiscal year. The decrease as a percentage of company-owned restaurant sales was due to sales leverage achieved as a result of the increase in company-owned same store sales of 14.2%. This decrease was slightly offset by an increase in delivery fees payable to third-party delivery providers due to the growth in delivery mix as a percent of total sales during fiscal year 2020.
Advertising expenses. Advertising expenses were $69.4 million in fiscal year 2020, an increase of $16.5 million, or 31.3%, compared to $52.9 million in the prior fiscal year, primarily due to domestic system-wide sales growth. Advertising expenses are recognized at the same time the related revenue is recognized, which does not necessarily correlate to the actual timing of the related advertising spend.
Selling, general and administrative ("SG&A"). SG&A expense was $69.0 million in fiscal year 2020, an increase of $11.7 million, or 20.4%, compared to $57.3 million in the prior fiscal year. The increase in SG&A expense was primarily due to approximately $5.5 million in higher variable performance-based compensation expense, inclusive of stock-based compensation expense, and $1.9 million in headcount-related expenses to support the growth in our business, and an increase of $1.4 million associated with additional expenses to support our national advertising campaign, which has an equal and offsetting contribution in revenue. We also incurred expenses of $2.8 million related to COVID-19 and support provided to international franchisees, $1.4 million in consulting fees related to support for strategic initiatives, and a one-time donation to the National Restaurant Employee Relief Fund of $1.0 million to support restaurant workers in times of need. These increases were slightly offset by a $2.1 million decrease in travel expenses, as well as a $1.8 million decrease in convention expenses related to the franchisee convention that occurred in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Depreciation and amortization. Depreciation and amortization was $7.5 million in fiscal year 2020, an increase of $2.0 million, or 37.1%, compared to $5.5 million in the prior fiscal year. The increase in depreciation and amortization expense was primarily due to accelerated depreciation on certain assets.
Gain on sale of restaurants and other expense, net. Gain on sale of restaurants and other expense, net increased primarily due to the gain recognized due to the sale of seven company-owned restaurants to franchisees.
Interest expense, net. Interest expense, net was $16.8 million in fiscal year 2020, a decrease of $0.4 million, or 2.1%, compared to $17.1 million in the prior fiscal year. The decrease was due to the refinancing of our securitized financing facility on October 30, 2020, which increased our outstanding debt by $162.4 million and reduced our interest rate from 4.97% to 2.84%.
37


Loss on debt extinguishment and refinancing transactions. Loss on debt extinguishment and refinancing transactions was $13.7 million due to costs and fees associated with the refinancing of our securitized financing facility on October 30, 2020.
Income tax expense. Income tax expense was $3.6 million in fiscal year 2020, yielding an effective tax rate of 13.5%, compared to an effective tax rate of 20.5% in the prior fiscal year. The decrease in the effective tax rate was primarily due to the impact of excess tax benefits associated with stock options exercised during fiscal year 2020.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
General. Our primary sources of liquidity and capital resources are cash provided from operating activities, cash and cash equivalents on hand, and proceeds from the incurrence of debt. Our primary requirements for liquidity and capital are working capital and general corporate needs. Historically, we have operated with minimal positive working capital or with negative working capital. We have in the past, and may in the future, refinance our existing indebtedness with new debt arrangements and utilize a portion of borrowings to return capital to our stockholders. We believe that our sources of liquidity and capital will be sufficient to finance our continued operations and growth strategy for at least the next twelve months.
The following table shows summary cash flows information for the fiscal years 2020 and 2019 (in thousands):
Year ended
December 26,
2020
December 28,
2019
Net cash provided by (used in):
Operating activities$65,530 $38,583 
Investing activities(7,987)(23,731)
Financing activities(19,448)(14,617)
Net change in cash and cash equivalents$38,095 $235 
Operating activities. Our cash flows from operating activities are principally driven by sales at both franchise restaurants and company-owned restaurants, as well as franchise and development fees. We collect franchise royalties from our franchise owners on a weekly basis. Restaurant-level operating costs at our company-owned restaurants, unearned franchise and development fees, and corporate overhead costs also impact our cash flows from operating activities.
Net cash provided by operating activities was $65.5 million in fiscal year 2020, an increase of $26.9 million from cash provided by operating activities of $38.6 million in the prior fiscal year. The increase is primarily due to the timing of changes in working capital as well as an increase in royalties and advertising fees due to the increase in system-wide sales.
Investing activities. Our net cash used in investing activities was $8.0 million in fiscal year 2020, a decrease of $15.7 million, from $23.7 million in fiscal year 2019. The decrease in cash used in investing activities was primarily due to the purchase of a new corporate headquarters building for $18.3 million during fiscal year 2019.
Financing activities. Our net cash used in financing activities was $19.4 million in fiscal year 2020, an increase of $4.8 million, from cash used in financing activities of $14.6 million in fiscal year 2019. The increase was primarily due to an increase in the regular quarterly dividend, which totaled $14.3 million in fiscal year 2020, compared to $11.7 million in fiscal year 2019. Additionally, in fiscal year 2020, we paid a special dividend in connection with the refinancing of our debt totaling $148.4 million and incurred deferred financing and other debt related costs of $18.6 million, which were funded by additional net borrowings of $162.4 million.
Securitized financing facility. On October 30, 2020, the Company completed a transaction to refinance its existing securitized financing facility with a new securitized financing facility, pursuant to which Wingstop Funding LLC (the "Issuer”), a limited-purpose, bankruptcy-remote, wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of the Company, issued $480.0 million of its Series 2020-1 2.84% Fixed Rate Senior Notes, Class A-2 (the "2020 Class A-2 Notes”). The Issuer also entered into a revolving financing facility of Series 2020-1 Variable Funding Senior Notes, Class A-1 (the "2020 Variable Funding Notes,” and together with the 2020 Class A-2 Notes, the "2020 Notes”) which permits borrowings of up to a maximum principal amount of $50.0 million, which may be used to issue letters of credit. A portion of the proceeds of the 2020 Class A-2 Notes was used to repay the $332.8 million of principal outstanding on the existing Series 2018-1 4.97% Fixed Rate Senior Secured Notes, Class A-2 and Series 2018-1 Variable Funding Senior Secured Notes, Class A-1 and to pay a special cash dividend of approximately $148.4 million to our stockholders.
38


The 2020 Class A-2 Notes are generally subject to 1% annual amortization, bear interest at a fixed rate of 2.84% per annum, and have an anticipated repayment date of December 2027.
Dividends. We paid quarterly cash dividends of $0.11 per share of common stock aggregating $6.5 million for the first two quarters of 2020. We paid quarterly cash dividends of $0.14 per share of common stock aggregating $8.3 million for the third and fourth quarters of 2020. On February 16, 2021, the Company’s board of directors approved a dividend of $0.14 per share, to be paid on March 26, 2021 to stockholders of record as of March 5, 2021, totaling approximately $4.2 million.
Separate from our regular dividend program, in December 2020, we paid a special cash dividend of $5.00 per share in connection with the refinancing of our existing securitized financing facility in October of 2020.
We do not currently expect the restrictions in our debt instruments to impact our ability to make regularly quarterly dividends pursuant to our quarterly dividend program. However, any future declarations of dividends, as well as the amount and timing of such dividends, is subject to capital availability and the discretion of our board of directors, which must evaluate, among other things, whether cash dividends are in the best interest of our stockholders.
Impact of Inflation
Historically, inflation has not had a material effect on our results of operations. However, increases in food and beverage, labor and energy costs, as well as the costs and materials used in the construction of new restaurants could affect our results. Our restaurant operations are subject to federal and state minimum wage laws governing such matters as working conditions, overtime and tip credits. Significant numbers of our and our franchisees’ restaurant personnel are paid at rates related to the federal and/or state minimum wage and, accordingly, increases in the minimum wage increase our and our franchisees’ labor costs. In addition, severe increases in inflation could affect the global and U.S. economies and could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, and results of operations. Further discussion on the impact of commodities and other cost pressures is included above as well as in "Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk.
Contractual Obligations
The following table sets forth our contractual obligations and commercial commitments as of December 26, 2020 (in thousands):
Payments due by period
Fiscal year 2021Fiscal years 2022-2023Fiscal years 2024-2025Thereafter
2020 Notes$3,600 $9,600 $9,600 $457,200 
Operating leases (a)
2,614 3,636 1,633 594 
Interest payments15,060 27,054 13,323 25,963 
Total$21,274 $40,290 $24,556 $483,757 

(a)
Includes base lease terms and certain optional renewal periods that are included in the lease term in accordance with accounting guidance related to leases.
Indemnifications. We are parties to certain indemnifications to third parties in the ordinary course of business. We believe the probability of incurring an actual liability under such indemnifications is sufficiently remote so that no liability has been recorded.
Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
The Company is required to provide standby letters of credit related to our securitized financing facility. Although the letters of credit are off-balance sheet, the obligations to which they relate are reflected as liabilities in the Consolidated Balance Sheet. Outstanding letters of credit totaled $4.9 million at December 26, 2020. We do not believe that these arrangements have or are likely to have a material effect on our results of operations, financial condition, revenues or expenses, capital expenditures or liquidity.
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
Our consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes are prepared in accordance with GAAP. Preparing consolidated financial statements requires us to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities,
39


revenues and expenses. These estimates and assumptions are affected by the application of our accounting policies. Critical accounting estimates are those that require application of management’s most difficult, subjective or complex judgments, often as a result of matters that are inherently uncertain and may change in subsequent periods. While we apply our judgment based on assumptions believed to be reasonable under the circumstances, actual results could vary from these assumptions. It is possible that materially different amounts would be reported using different assumptions. Our critical accounting policies and estimates are more fully described in Note 1 to our consolidated financial statements. However, we believe the accounting policies described below are particularly important to the portrayal and understanding of our financial position and results of operations.
Revenue Recognition
Revenue from contracts with customers consists primarily of royalties, Ad Fund contributions, initial and renewal franchise fees and upfront fees from development agreements and international territory agreements. Our performance obligations under franchise agreements consist of (a) a franchise license, (b) pre-opening services, such as training, and (c) ongoing services, such as management of the Ad Fund, development of training materials and menu items and restaurant monitoring. These performance obligations are highly interrelated, so we do not consider them to be individually distinct and therefore account for them as a single performance obligation, which is satisfied by providing a right to use our intellectual property over the term of each franchise agreement.
Royalties, including franchisee contributions to the Ad Fund, are calculated as a percentage of franchise restaurant sales over the term of the franchise agreement. Initial and renewal franchise fees are payable by the franchisee prior to the restaurant opening or at the time of a renewal of an existing franchise agreement. Our franchise agreement royalties, inclusive of Ad Fund contributions, represent sales-based royalties that are related entirely to our performance obligation under the franchise agreement and are recognized as franchise sales occur. Additionally, initial and renewal franchise fees are recognized as revenue on a straight-line basis over the term of the respective agreement. Our performance obligation under development agreements and international territory agreements generally consists of an obligation to grant exclusive development rights over a stated term. These development rights are not distinct from franchise agreements, so upfront fees paid by franchisees for development rights are deferred and apportioned to each franchise restaurant opened by the franchisee. The pro rata amount apportioned to each restaurant is accounted for as an initial franchise fee.

Item 7A.
Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures of Market Risks
Commodity Price Risk. We are exposed to market risks from changes in commodity prices. Many of the food products purchased by us are affected by weather, production, availability, and other factors outside our control. Although we attempt to minimize the effect of price volatility by negotiating fixed price contracts for the supply of key ingredients, there are no established fixed price markets for bone-in chicken wings, and as a result we are subject to prevailing market conditions. Bone-in chicken wings accounted for approximately 27.4% and 28.2% of our company-owned restaurant costs of sales in fiscal years 2020 and 2019. A hypothetical 10.0% increase in the bone-in chicken wing costs in fiscal year 2020 would have increased costs of sales by approximately $1.3 million during the year. We do not engage in speculative financial transactions nor do we hold or issue financial instruments for trading purposes.
Interest Rate Risk. Our long-term debt, including current portion, consisted entirely of the $480.0 million incurred under the 2020 Notes as of December 26, 2020 (excluding unamortized debt issuance costs). The Company’s predominantly fixed-rate debt structure has reduced its exposure to interest rate increases that could adversely affect its earnings and cash flows, but the Company remains exposed to changes in market interest rates reflected in the fair value of the debt and to the risk that the Company may need to refinance maturing debt with new debt at a higher rate. The Company is exposed to interest rate increases under the 2020 Variable Funding Notes; however, the Company had no outstanding borrowings under its 2020 Variable Funding Notes as of December 26, 2020, net of letters of credit issued of $4.9 million.

Item 8.
Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
Information with respect to this Item is set forth beginning on page F-1. See "Item 15 - Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules” below.

Item 9.
Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
None.
40



Item 9A.
Controls and Procedures
Evaluation of Disclosure Controls and Procedures
Our management, with the participation of our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, evaluated the effectiveness of the design and operation of our disclosure controls and procedures, pursuant to Rule 13a-15 under the Exchange Act, as of the end of the period covered by this Annual Report on Form 10-K. In designing and evaluating the disclosure controls and procedures, management recognized that any controls and procedures, no matter how well designed and operated, can provide only reasonable assurance of achieving the desired control objectives. In addition, the design of disclosure controls and procedures must reflect the fact that there are resource constraints and that management is required to apply its judgment in evaluating the benefits of possible controls and procedures relative to their costs.
Based on that evaluation, our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer concluded that our disclosure controls and procedures were effective as of December 26, 2020 to provide reasonable assurance that information we are required to disclose in reports that we file or submit under the Exchange Act is recorded, processed, summarized, and reported within the time periods specified in SEC rules and forms, and that such information is accumulated and communicated to our management, including our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, as appropriate, to allow timely decisions regarding required disclosure.
Changes in Internal Control over Financial Reporting
There have been no changes in our internal control over financial reporting (as defined in Rule 13a-15(f) of the Exchange Act) that occurred during our most recently completed fiscal quarter that have materially affected, or are reasonably likely to materially affect, our internal control over financial reporting.
Management’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting
The management of Wingstop Inc. is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting as defined in Rule 13a-15(f) under the Exchange Act. Internal control over financial reporting is a process to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of our financial reporting for external purposes in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States. Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.
Our management, including our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, assessed the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as of December 26, 2020. In making this assessment, we used the criteria set forth by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission in Internal Control-Integrated Framework (2013). Based on such assessment our management has concluded that, as of December 26, 2020, our internal control over financial reporting is effective based on those criteria.
KPMG LLP, an independent registered public accounting firm, has issued an attestation report, included herein, on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as of December 26, 2020.
41


Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm
To the Stockholders and Board of Directors
Wingstop Inc.:
Opinion on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting
We have audited Wingstop Inc. and subsidiaries’ (the Company) internal control over financial reporting as of December 26, 2020, based on criteria established in Internal Control – Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission. In our opinion, the Company maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of December 26, 2020, based on criteria established in Internal Control – Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission.
We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (PCAOB), the consolidated balance sheets of the Company as of December 26, 2020 and December 28, 2019, the related consolidated statements of operations, stockholders’ deficit, and cash flows for each of the years in the two-year period ended December 26, 2020, and the related notes (collectively, the consolidated financial statements), and our report dated February 17, 2021, expressed an unqualified opinion on those consolidated financial statements.
Basis for Opinion
The Company’s management is responsible for maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting and for its assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting, included in the accompanying Management’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Company’s internal control over financial reporting based on our audit. We are a public accounting firm registered with the PCAOB and are required to be independent with respect to the Company in accordance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PCAOB.
We conducted our audit in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether effective internal control over financial reporting was maintained in all material respects. Our audit of internal control over financial reporting included obtaining an understanding of internal control over financial reporting, assessing the risk that a material weakness exists, and testing and evaluating the design and operating effectiveness of internal control based on the assessed risk. Our audit also included performing such other procedures as we considered necessary in the circumstances. We believe that our audit provides a reasonable basis for our opinion.
Definition and Limitations of Internal Control Over Financial Reporting
A company’s internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. A company’s internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (1) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the company; (2) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and that receipts and expenditures of the company are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and directors of the company; and (3) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the company’s assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.
Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.
/s/ KPMG LLP

Dallas, Texas
February 17, 2021
42



Item 9B.Other Information
None.

43


PART III
Item 10.Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Information required by this Item 10 will be included in our definitive Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders and such disclosure is incorporated herein by reference.
Item 11.Executive Compensation
Information required by this Item 11 will be included in our definitive Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders and such disclosure is incorporated herein by reference. 
Item 12.Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Information required by this Item 12 will be included in our definitive Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders and such disclosure is incorporated herein by reference. 
Item 13.Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
Information required by this Item 13 will be included in our definitive Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders and such disclosure is incorporated herein by reference.
Item 14.Principal Accounting Fees and Services
The Company’s independent registered public accounting firm is KPMG LLP. Information required by this Item 14 will be included in our definitive Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders and such disclosure is incorporated herein by reference.

44


PART IV



Item 15.Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules
(a)Financial Statements
Refer to Index to Financial Statements appearing on page F-1.
(b)Financial Statement Schedules
No financial statement schedules are provided because the information called for is not required or is shown in the financial statements or the notes thereto.
(c)Exhibits
The exhibits listed below are filed or incorporated by reference as a part of this report.


Exhibit No.Description
3.1
3.2
4.1
4.2
4.3
4.4*
10.1
10.2
10.3
10.4
10.5†
10.6†
45


10.7†
10.8†
10.9†
10.10†
10.11†
10.12†
10.13†
10.14†
10.15†
10.16†
10.17†
21.1*
23.1*
23.2*
31.1*
31.2*
32.1**
32.2**
101.INS*Inline XBRL Instance Document - the instance document does not appear in the Interactive Data File because its XBRL tags are embedded within the Inline XBRL document.
101.SCH*Inline XBRL Taxonomy Extension Schema Document.
101.CAL*Inline XBRL Taxonomy Extension Calculation Linkbase Document.
101.DEF*Inline XBRL Taxonomy Extension Definition Linkbase Document.
101.LAB*Inline XBRL Taxonomy Extension Label Linkbase Document.
101.PRE*Inline XBRL Taxonomy Extension Presentation Linkbase Document.
104*
Cover Page Interactive Data File (formatted as Inline XBRL and Contained in Exhibit 101).
___________________
*Filed herewith.
** The certifications attached as Exhibits 32.1 and 32.2 are furnished herewith, are not deemed "filed” with the SEC and are not to be incorporated by reference into any filing of Wingstop Inc. under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act, whether made before or after the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, irrespective of any general incorporation language contained in such filing.
46


Indicates management agreement.


Item 16.Form 10-K Summary
None.
47


Signatures
Pursuant to the requirements of Section 13 or 15(d) of the Exchange Act, the registrant has duly caused this report to be signed on its behalf by the undersigned, thereunto duly authorized.
Wingstop Inc.
/s/ Charles R. Morrison
Charles R. Morrison
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (Principal Executive Officer and duly authorized officer)
Pursuant to the requirements of the Exchange Act, this report has been signed below by the following persons on behalf of the registrant and in the capacities and on the dates indicated.
NameTitleDate
/s/ Charles R. MorrisonFebruary 17, 2021
Charles R. MorrisonChairman and Chief Executive Officer (Principal Executive Officer)
/s/ Michael J. SkipworthFebruary 17, 2021
Michael J. SkipworthChief Financial Officer (Principal Financial and Accounting Officer)
/s/ Lynn Crump-CaineFebruary 17, 2021
Lynn Crump-CaineLead Independent Director
/s/ Krishnan AnandFebruary 17, 2021
Krishnan AnandDirector
/s/ David L. GoebelFebruary 17, 2021
David L. GoebelDirector
/s/ Michael J. HislopFebruary 17, 2021
Michael J. HislopDirector
/s/ Kate S. LavelleFebruary 17, 2021
Kate S. LavelleDirector
/s/ Kilandigalu M. MadatiFebruary 17, 2021
Kilandigalu M. MadatiDirector
/s/ Wesley S. McDonaldFebruary 17, 2021
Wesley S. McDonaldDirector

48


INDEX TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

Consolidated Financial Statements


F-1


Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm
To the Stockholders and Board of Directors
Wingstop Inc.:
Opinion on the Consolidated Financial Statements
We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of Wingstop Inc. and subsidiaries (the Company) as of December 26, 2020 and December 28, 2019, the related consolidated statements of operations, stockholders’ deficit, and cash flows for each of the years in the two-year period ended December 26, 2020, and the related notes (collectively, the consolidated financial statements). In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Company as of December 26, 2020 and December 28, 2019, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the years in the two-year period ended December 26, 2020, in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles.
We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (PCAOB), the Company’s internal control over financial reporting as of December 26, 2020, based on criteria established in Internal Control – Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission, and our report dated February 17, 2021 expressed an unqualified opinion on the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting.
Change in Accounting Principle
As discussed in Note 1 to the consolidated financial statements, the Company has changed its method of accounting for leases as of December 30, 2018, due to the adoption of Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842), as amended.
Basis for Opinion
These consolidated financial statements are the responsibility of the Company’s management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on these consolidated financial statements based on our audits. We are a public accounting firm registered with the PCAOB and are required to be independent with respect to the Company in accordance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PCAOB.
We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the consolidated financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether due to error or fraud. Our audits included performing procedures to assess the risks of material misstatement of the consolidated financial statements, whether due to error or fraud, and performing procedures that respond to those risks. Such procedures included examining, on a test basis, evidence regarding the amounts and disclosures in the consolidated financial statements. Our audits also included evaluating the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the consolidated financial statements. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.
Critical Audit Matter
The critical audit matter communicated below is a matter arising from the current period audit of the consolidated financial statements that was communicated or required to be communicated to the audit committee and that: (1) relates to accounts or disclosures that are material to the consolidated financial statements and (2) involved our especially challenging, subjective, or complex judgments. The communication of the critical audit matter does not alter in any way our opinion on the consolidated financial statements, taken as a whole, and we are not, by communicating the critical audit matter below, providing a separate opinion on the critical audit matter or on the accounts or disclosures to which it relates.
Evaluation of the sufficiency of audit evidence obtained over royalty revenue and advertising fees
As discussed in Notes 1 and 16 to the consolidated financial statements, the Company recognized $98.6 million of royalty revenue and $74.9 million of advertising fees for the year ended December 26, 2020. Royalty revenue and advertising fees are calculated as a percentage of franchise restaurant sales over the term of the franchise agreement.
F-2


We identified the evaluation of the sufficiency of audit evidence obtained over royalty revenue and advertising fees as a critical audit matter. This evaluation required especially challenging auditor judgement because such revenue streams are dependent upon the franchise restaurant sales reported by the franchised restaurants through the franchisees’ point-of-sale systems.
The following are the primary procedures we performed to address this critical audit matter. We evaluated the design and tested the operating effectiveness of certain internal controls over the Company’s revenue process, including controls over (1) the royalty and advertising fund contribution rates and (2) the reconciliation of royalty revenue and advertising fees recognized with the amount of cash received from franchisees for royalty and advertising fees. We involved IT professionals with specialized skills and knowledge who assisted in testing the information systems used in the revenue process. We compared revenue recognized to cash received for the year for royalty revenue and advertising fees. We sent third-party confirmations to a sample of franchisees regarding the amount of royalties and advertising fees that they owed to the Company. In addition, we evaluated the overall sufficiency of the audit evidence obtained over royalty revenue and advertising fees.
/s/ KPMG LLP
We have served as the Company’s auditor since 2019.
Dallas, Texas
February 17, 2021
F-3


Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm
To the Stockholders and the Board of Directors of Wingstop Inc. and Subsidiaries
Opinion on the Financial Statements
We have audited the accompanying consolidated statements of operations, stockholders’ deficit and cash flows for the fiscal year ended December 29, 2018, and the related notes (collectively referred to as the "consolidated financial statements”) (not presented separately herein). In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the results of its operations and its cash flows for the fiscal year ended December 29, 2018, in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles.
Basis for Opinion
These financial statements are the responsibility of the Company's management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Company’s financial statements based on our audit. We are a public accounting firm registered with the PCAOB and are required to be independent with respect to the Company in accordance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PCAOB.
We conducted our audit in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether due to error or fraud. Our audit included performing procedures to assess the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to error or fraud, and performing procedures that respond to those risks. Such procedures included examining, on a test basis, evidence regarding the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. Our audit also included evaluating the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the financial statements. We believe that our audit provides a reasonable basis for our opinion.
/s/ ERNST & YOUNG LLP
We served as the Company's auditor from 2014 to 2019.
Dallas, Texas
February 17, 2021

F-4


WINGSTOP INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Consolidated Balance Sheets
(amounts in thousands, except share and par value data)
 December 26,
2020
 December 28,
2019
Assets  
Current assets  
Cash and cash equivalents$40,858 $12,849 
Restricted cash4,815 4,790 
Accounts receivable, net4,929 5,175 
Prepaid expenses and other current assets5,532 2,449 
Advertising fund assets, restricted16,486 4,927 
Total current assets72,620 30,190 
Property and equipment, net27,948 27,842 
Goodwill53,690 50,188 
Trademarks32,700 32,700 
Customer relationships, net11,600 12,910 
Other non-current assets13,007 12,283 
Total assets$211,565 $166,113 
Liabilities and stockholders' deficit
Current liabilities
Accounts payable$3,658 $3,348 
Other current liabilities26,729 21,454 
Current portion of debt3,600 3,200 
Advertising fund liabilities16,486 4,927 
Total current liabilities50,473 32,929 
Long-term debt, net466,933 307,669 
Deferred revenues, net of current24,962 22,343 
Deferred income tax liabilities, net4,480 4,485 
Other non-current liabilities6,027 8,115 
Total liabilities552,875 375,541 
Commitments and contingencies (see Note 12)
Stockholders' deficit
Common stock, $0.01 par value; 100,000,000 shares authorized; 29,687,123 and 29,457,228 shares issued and outstanding as of December 26, 2020 and December 28, 2019, respectively
297 295 
Additional paid-in-capital421 552 
Accumulated deficit(342,028)(210,275)
Total stockholders' deficit(341,310)(209,428)
Total liabilities and stockholders' deficit$211,565 $166,113 
See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.


F-5


WINGSTOP INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Consolidated Statements of Operations
(amounts in thousands, except per share data)
 Fiscal Year Ended
 December 26,
2020
December 28,
2019
December 29,
2018
Revenue:   
Royalty revenue, franchise fees and other$108,883 $88,291 $71,858 
Advertising fees74,930 55,932 34,484 
Company-owned restaurant sales64,998 55,453 46,839 
Total revenue248,811 199,676 153,181 
Costs and expenses:
Cost of sales (1)
48,583 41,105 32,063 
Advertising expenses69,428 52,891 33,699 
Selling, general and administrative68,985 57,295 44,579 
Depreciation and amortization7,518 5,484 4,313 
Gain on sale of restaurants and other expenses, net(3,093)  
Total costs and expenses191,421 156,775 114,654 
Operating income57,390 42,901 38,527 
Interest expense, net16,782 17,136 10,123 
Loss on debt extinguishment and refinancing transactions13,665  1,477 
Income before income tax expense26,943 25,765 26,927 
Income tax expense3,637 5,289 5,208 
Net income$23,306 $20,476 $21,719 
Earnings per share
Basic$0.79 $0.70 $0.74 
Diluted$0.78 $0.69 $0.73 
Weighted average shares outstanding
Basic29,601 29,415 29,231 
Diluted29,804 29,670 29,587 
Dividends per share$5.50 $0.40 $6.54 
(1) Cost of sales includes all operating expenses of company-owned restaurants, including advertising expenses, and excludes depreciation and amortization, which are presented separately.
See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.


F-6


WINGSTOP INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Consolidated Statements of Stockholders’ Deficit
(amounts in thousands, except share data)

 Common Stock
 SharesAmount
Additional
Paid-In Capital
Accumulated DeficitTotal Stockholders’ Deficit
Balance at December 30, 201729,092,669 291 262 (58,971)(58,418)
Net income— — — 21,719 21,719 
Shares issued under stock plans208,261 2 515 — 517 
Tax payments for restricted stock upon vesting(3,991)— — (183)(183)
Stock-based compensation expense— — 3,725 — 3,725 
Dividends declared on common stock and equivalents— — (3,466)(188,724)(192,190)
Balance at December 29, 201829,296,939 293 1,036 (226,159)(224,830)
Adjustment for ASC 842 adoption— — — 154 154 
Net income— — — 20,476 20,476 
Shares issued under stock plans176,201 2 687 — 689 
Tax payments for restricted stock upon vesting(15,912)— — (1,149)(1,149)
Stock-based compensation expense— — 6,974 — 6,974 
Dividends declared on common stock and equivalents— — (8,145)(3,597)(11,742)
Balance at December 28, 201929,457,228 295 552 (210,275)(209,428)
Net income— — — 23,306 23,306 
Shares issued under stock plans233,051 2 923 — 925 
Tax payments for restricted stock upon vesting(3,156)— — (340)(340)
Stock-based compensation expense— — 8,558 — 8,558 
Dividends declared on common stock and equivalents— — (9,612)(154,719)(164,331)
Balance at December 26, 202029,687,123 297 421 (342,028)(341,310)
See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.


F-7

WINGSTOP INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows
(amounts in thousands)

 Fiscal Year Ended
 December 26,
2020
December 28,
2019
December 29,
2018
Operating activities   
Net income$23,306 $20,476 $21,719 
Adjustments to reconcile net income to cash provided by operating activities:
Depreciation and amortization7,518 5,484 4,313 
Deferred income taxes(4)(426)(1,054)
Stock-based compensation expense8,558 6,974 3,725 
(Gain)/Loss on disposal of assets(3,093)  
Loss on debt extinguishment and refinancing transactions13,665  1,477 
Amortization of debt issuance costs1,567 1,586 506 
Changes in operating assets and liabilities:
Accounts receivable246 496 (1,197)
Prepaid expenses and other assets1,089 323 (178)
Advertising fund assets and liabilities, net10,061 (449)1,657 
Accounts payable and other current liabilities1,507 3,086 6,996 
Deferred revenue3,198 881 977 
Other non-current liabilities(2,088)152 (171)
Cash provided by operating activities65,530 38,583 38,770 
Investing activities
Purchases of property and equipment(6,052)(22,486)(3,982)
Acquisitions of restaurants from franchisees(6,735)(1,245)(6,516)
Proceeds from sales of assets4,800   
Cash used in investing activities(7,987)(23,731)(10,498)
Financing activities
Proceeds from exercise of stock options925 689 517 
Borrowings of long-term debt496,000 5,000 551,108 
Repayments of long-term debt(333,600)(7,400)(364,858)
Payment of deferred financing costs and other debt-related costs(18,641)(15)(9,571)
Tax payments for restricted stock upon vesting(340)(1,149)(183)
Dividends paid(163,792)(11,742)(190,737)
Cash used in financing activities(19,448)(14,617)(13,724)
Net increase in cash, cash equivalents, and restricted cash38,095 235 14,548 
Cash, cash equivalents, and restricted cash at beginning of period21,175 20,940 6,392 
Cash, cash equivalents, and restricted cash at end of period$59,270 $21,175 $20,940 
Supplemental information:
Cash paid for interest$14,549 $16,929 $7,601 
Cash paid for taxes$7,262 $5,407 $2,951 
See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.
F-8

WINGSTOP INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements



(1)
Basis of Presentation and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
Overview
Wingstop Inc., together with its consolidated subsidiaries (collectively, "Wingstop” or the "Company”), is in the business of franchising and operating Wingstop restaurants. As of December 26, 2020, the Company had a total of 1,538 restaurants in its system. The Company's restaurant base is 98% franchised, with 1,506 franchised locations (including 179 international locations) and 32 company-owned restaurants as of December 26, 2020.
Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
(a)Principles of Consolidation
The accompanying consolidated financial statements include the accounts of Wingstop Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiaries. All intercompany balances and transactions have been eliminated in consolidation.
(b)Fiscal Year End
The Company uses a 52/53-week fiscal year that ends on the last Saturday of the calendar year. Fiscal years 2020, 2019, and 2018 each consisted of 52 weeks.
(c)Use of Estimates
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP”) requires management to make estimates and assumptions, primarily related to long-lived asset valuation, indefinite and finite lived intangible asset valuation, income taxes, leases, stock-based compensation, contingencies, and common stock equity valuations. These estimates and assumptions affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities as of the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the period. Although management bases its estimates on historical experience and assumptions that are believed to be reasonable under the circumstances, actual results could differ from those estimates.
(d)
Comprehensive Income (Loss)
Comprehensive income (loss) is defined as the change in equity of a business enterprise during a period from transactions and other events and circumstances from non-owner sources. Comprehensive income is the same as net income for all periods presented. Therefore, a separate statement of comprehensive income (loss) is not included in the accompanying consolidated financial statements.
(e)
Cash, Cash Equivalents, and Restricted Cash
The Company continually monitors its positions with, and the credit quality of, the financial institutions in which it maintains its deposits and investments. As of December 26, 2020 and December 28, 2019, the Company maintained balances in various cash accounts in excess of federally insured limits. All highly liquid instruments purchased with an original maturity of three months or less are considered cash equivalents.
F-9


Restricted cash includes cash and cash equivalents held for future principal and interest payments as required by the Company's debt agreements (see Note 10). The Company also has Advertising fund restricted cash, which can only be used for activities that promote the Wingstop brand. Cash, cash equivalents, and restricted cash within the Consolidated Balance Sheets that are included in the Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows as of December 26, 2020 and December 28, 2019 were as follows (in thousands):
December 26, 2020December 28, 2019
Cash and cash equivalents$40,858 $12,849 
Restricted cash4,815 4,790 
Restricted cash, included in Advertising fund assets, restricted13,597 3,536 
Total cash, cash equivalents, and restricted cash$59,270 $21,175 

(f)
Accounts Receivable