Buffalo Wild Wings has suffered a few bumps and bruises recently, with fluctuations in share prices netting out to a 16% drop in the past 12 months. The sports-fueled wings emporium has been trying out various strategies to rally back, including infiltrating urban markets with new stores and testing delivery in select cities. Now, Marcato Capital Management—which announced its 5.2% stake in the company last month—is shaking things up with a stern open letter to B-Dubs chairman James Damian.
In the August 17 letter, Marcato founder and CEO Mick McGuire calls out the brand's “tendency to favor gut feel and thematic proclamations” that lack “tangible evidence or appropriate analytical support,” according to the Wall Street Journal. In addition to broader points about poor decision-making and inaction among BW3's management (a sampling of the shots fired: "The chronic absence of detail around even the most basic of metrics causes us to question whether the right questions are being asked and answered"), a presentation from the hedge fund singles out various questionable strategies deployed by the brand, including pushing carryout in a way that is "inconsistent with the 'core consumer' at Buffalo Wild Wings: a social live-sports viewer." (Those interested in the business of chain eating can read through the full presentation here.)
The letter also notes that food quality and service have gone downhill at the chain—a point that seemed to be echoed on social media as the letter made the rounds. However, it maintains that the brand could triple its value by tweaking its strategy.
Despite the harsh words, the feather-ruffling could be net-positive for the company. Buffalo Wild Wings has already responded publicly, stating that it welcomes the investor feedback and "will continue to engage constructively with Marcato." The stock prise rallied 2.2% following the letter.
[via Wall Street Journal]