Activist investor Sardar Biglari is once again requesting that Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. alter its management and expansion strategies — the latest in what is now an effort of 10-plus years.
In a letter to shareholders of the Lebanon-based company, Biglari, founder of San Antonio-based Biglari Capital Corp., writes, “it has become increasingly clear that management lacks a credible strategy with which to create value in the present business climate.” He also “question(s) the rationale for spending $120 million of shareholder capital in fiscal 2022 — which includes the opening of three new Cracker Barrel locations and 15 new Maple Street Biscuit Company locations — when there remains a significant profit gap within current business operations.”
Most recently, Biglari expressed concerns about the company's decision to invest in the Punch Bowl Social "eatertainment" concept before scrapping the effort as COVID-19 hit in 2020 — a move that cost Cracker Barrel about $133 million, as the Post reported at the time.
Biglari Capital Corp., which a release notes owns 2,055,141 shares (representing approximately 8.7 percent of the company's outstanding shares), said that Cracker Barrel does not need more stores but, rather, should make existing stores “far more productive.”
From Fiscal Year 2005 through the end of Fiscal Year 2019, guest traffic declined by approximately 20 percent, according to the release.
“Regaining this lost guest traffic would add more than $600 million in annual revenue,” Biglari writes in the letter.
A Cracker Barrel spokesperson emailed the Post the following statement:
“Although we respectfully disagree with the various assertions and suggestions in Mr. Biglari’s most recent letter, we appreciate feedback from our shareholders whenever they provide it.”
Biglari garnered local headlines in October 2020 when he attempted to spur Cracker Barrel brass to make board changes, his fourth attempt since 2010. The company declined to institute the alterations (read here).
Cracker Barrel shares (Ticker: CBRL) were down 0.29 percent to $122.25 Tuesday. The company's stock started 2021 at about $135 a share.