LJS launches Lent promo, hikes cod and pollock purchases
Long John Silver’s Lent promotion, which kicks off today, 30 January, signals the start of what is expected to be a big growth year for the more than 1,000-store chain.
The longstanding quick-service chain has also upped its purchases of several seafood species, including cod and pollock from Alaska.
For the Lenten season, LJS is promoting a Beer-Battered Cod meal, served with hush puppies and a side, for USD 5.99 (EUR 5.59). It will simultaneously promote its Classic Battered Fish meal, made with pollock.
“This will be the first time in the company’s history that we have offered two different batters at the same time. This will also be the first time we have offered a flavored batter,” Marilyn Nicholson, vice president of marketing, media & promotions for LJS, told SeafoodSource.
In addition to the battered cod meals, LJS is drawing attention to other products launched last year, including its retooled Crispy Fish Sandwich made with Alaskan pollock, its Baja Fish Tacos made with Alaskan pollock, and several shrimp dishes.
As a result of new menu items, LJS is “buying up a lot of cod this year,” Nicholson said. “Premium cod products are something our consumers are really keen about.” As a result, the chain will announced some “flavor news around premium cod products” this year.
Trident Seafoods and High Liner Foods supply all of LJS’s cod.
“Both meet our standards for sourcing around sustainability and traceablity. We buy in such volume – we have nearly 1,000 restaurants purchasing cod – and we have such a great relationship with them.”
LJS has also upped purchases of pollock this year from Trident and High Liner.
The chain’s growth in seafood purchasing is a reflection of positive sales growth for the past six quarters. Despite the overall restaurant industry decline over the past year, LJS finished 2016 with a 3.2 percent increase in same-store sales.
“We have focused on being the best restaurant company we can be,” Nicholson said. “It’s all about loyalty – keeping our customers close and providing the customers value, new product news, good quality and good-tasting food, so when have the opportunity to drive people into our restaurants, they feel like they want to come back.”
A balance of premium products and value products also provides customers a wide range of choices, Nicholson said.
Americans’ growing consumption of seafood is also benefitting sales at LJS.
“Consumers have been eating more seafood, which is great for us,” Nicholson said. “Some of the other proteins, such as beef and chicken, have challenges.”
LJS also had signficant success with its rebranding (including a new logo) and store remodel program in 2016. In fact, one remodeled franchised store in West Virginia had a double-digit sales increase last year and is now produces USD 1 million (EUR 932,879) in sales.
While LJS opened one store in 2016, it plans to open 10 new stores in the U.S. in 2017 and will remodel 56 stores this year.
Meanwhile, for Lent, LJS is bringing back its “Fish You Were Here" sweepstakes – with a twist. Customers who take selfies making a “fish face” in LJS stores and then upload it to LJSelfie.com are entered to win a grand prize of a one-week theme park adventure for four to Orlando.