pbpb-10k_20171231.htm

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017

or

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

Commission file number 001-36104

 

POTBELLY CORPORATION

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

Delaware

 

36-4466837

(State of incorporation)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

111 N. Canal Street, Suite 850

Chicago, Illinois

 

60606

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code (312) 951-0600

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, $.01 par value

 

The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC

(Nasdaq Global Select Market)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    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      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, and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted 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 and post such files.)    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  

Indicate by check mark whether registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Large accelerated filer

 

 

  

Accelerated filer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

  (Do not check if a smaller reporting company)

  

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 is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).    Yes      No  

As of June 23, 2017, the last trading day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s outstanding common equity held by non-affiliates was $278.8 million, based on the closing price of the registrant’s common stock on such date as reported on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. For the purposes of this computation, shares held by directors and executive officers of the registrant have been excluded. Such exclusion is not intended, nor shall it be deemed, to be an admission that such persons are affiliates of the registrant.

As of January 28, 2018, 25,107,188 shares of the registrant’s common stock were outstanding.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement for its 2018 Annual Meeting to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission not later than 120 days after the end of the year covered by this Annual Report are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report.

 

 


TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Cautionary Statement on Forward-Looking Statements

 

3

 

 

 

PART I

 

 

Item 1.

 

Business

 

4

Item 1A.

 

Risk Factors

 

14

Item 1B.

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

25

Item 2.

 

Properties

 

25

Item 3.

 

Legal Proceedings

 

26

Item 4.

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

26

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

Item 5.

 

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

27

Item 6.

 

Selected Financial Data

 

28

Item 7.

 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

33

Item 7A.

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

45

Item 8.

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

46

Item 9.

 

Changes In and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

67

Item 9A.

 

Controls and Procedures

 

67

Item 9B.

 

Other Information

 

67

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

Item 10.

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

68

Item 11.

 

Executive Compensation

 

68

Item 12.

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

 

68

Item 13.

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

68

Item 14.

 

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

 

68

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

Item 15.

 

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

 

69

 

 

 

Exhibit Index

 

70

Signatures

 

72

 

2


 

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT ON FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

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”), are made throughout this Annual Report and are intended to come within the safe harbor protection provided by those sections. These forward-looking statements can generally be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology, including the terms “believes,” “estimates,” “anticipates,” “expects,” “strives,” “goal,” “seeks,” “projects,” “intends,” “forecasts,” “plans,” “may,” “will” or “should” or, in each case, their negative or other variations or comparable terminology. They appear in a number of places throughout this Annual Report and include statements regarding our intentions, beliefs or current expectations concerning, among other things, our results of operations, financial condition, liquidity, prospects, growth, strategies and the industry in which we operate.

By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties because they relate to events and depend on circumstances that may or may not occur in the future. We believe that these risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, those described in “Risk Factors” in Item 1A, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

 

 

competition in the restaurant industry, which is highly competitive and includes many larger, more well-established companies;

 

 

changes in economic conditions, including the effects of consumer confidence and discretionary spending; the future cost and availability of credit; and the liquidity or operations of our suppliers and other service providers;

 

 

fluctuation in price and availability of commodities, including but not limited to items such as beef, poultry, grains, dairy and produce and energy supplies, where prices could increase or decrease more than we expect;

 

 

our ability to identify and secure new locations and expand our operations (which is dependent upon various factors such as the availability of attractive sites for new shops), negotiate suitable lease terms, obtain all required governmental permits including zoning approvals on a timely basis, control construction and development costs and obtain capital to fund such costs, and recruit, train and retain qualified operating personnel;

 

 

changes in consumer tastes and lack of acceptance or awareness of our brand in existing or new markets; damage to our reputation caused by, for example, any perceived reduction in the quality of our food, service or staff or an adverse change in our culture, concerns regarding food safety and food-borne illness or adverse opinions about the health effects of our menu offerings;

 

 

local, regional, national and international economic and political conditions; the seasonality of our business; demographic trends; traffic patterns and our ability to effectively respond in a timely manner to changes in traffic patterns; the cost of advertising and media; inflation or deflation; unemployment rates; interest rates; and increases in various costs, such as real estate and insurance costs;

 

 

adverse weather conditions, local strikes, natural disasters and other disasters, especially in local or regional areas in which our shops are concentrated;

 

 

litigation or legal complaints alleging, among other things, illness, injury or violations of federal and state workplace and employment laws and our ability to obtain and maintain required licenses and permits;

 

 

government actions and policies; tax and other legislation; regulation of the restaurant industry; and accounting standards or pronouncements;

 

 

our reliance on a limited number of suppliers for our major products and on a distribution network with a limited number of distribution partners for the majority of our national distribution program;

 

 

security breaches of confidential customer information in connection with our electronic processing of credit and debit card transactions or the failure of our information technology system;

 

 

actions taken by activist stockholders;

 

 

our ability to adequately protect our intellectual property; and

 

 

other factors discussed under “Business” in Item 1, “Risk Factors” in Item 1A and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Item 7.

These factors should not be construed as exhaustive and should be read in conjunction with the other cautionary statements included in this document. These risks and uncertainties, as well as other risks of which we are not aware or which we currently do not believe to be material, may cause our actual future results to be materially different than those expressed in our forward-looking statements. We do not undertake to update our forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required by law.

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PART I

 

ITEM 1.

BUSINESS

The Neighborhood Sandwich Shop

Potbelly is a growing neighborhood sandwich concept offering toasty warm sandwiches, signature salads and other fresh menu items served by engaging people in an environment that reflects the Potbelly brand. Our combination of product, people and place is how we deliver on our passion to be “The Best Place for Lunch.” Our sandwiches, salads and hand-dipped milkshakes are all made fresh to order and our cookies are baked fresh each day. Our employees are trained to engage with our customers in a genuine way to provide a personalized experience. Our shops feature vintage design elements and locally-themed décor inspired by the neighborhood that we believe create a lively atmosphere. Through this combination, we believe we are creating a devoted base of Potbelly fans that return again and again and that we are expanding one sandwich shop at a time.

Potbelly believes that a key to our past and future success is our culture. It is embodied in The Potbelly Advantage, which is an expression of our Vision, Mission, Passion and Values, and the foundation of everything we do. Our Vision is for our customers to feel that we are their “Neighborhood Sandwich Shop” and to tell others about their great experience. Our Mission is to make people really happy, to make more money and to improve every day. Our Passion is to be “The Best Place for Lunch.” Our Values embody both how we lead and how we behave and form the cornerstone of our culture. We use simple language that resonates from the frontline associate to the most senior levels of the organization, creating shared expectations and accountabilities in how we approach our day-to-day activities. We strive to be a fun, friendly and hardworking group of people who enjoy taking care of our customers, while at the same time taking care of each other. The Company believes executing on The Potbelly Advantage at a high level creates a distinct competitive advantage and drives our operating and financial results.

As of December 31, 2017, we had a domestic base of 476 shops in 31 states and the District of Columbia. Of these, the company operates 437 shops and franchisees operate 39 shops. In addition, there are 16 international franchised shops, including 11 shops in the Middle East, one shop in the United Kingdom, three shops in Canada and one shop in India. Total shop growth was 8.2% over the prior year. Potbelly generated shop-level profit margin of 18.2%, 19.7%, 19.4%, 19.2% and 20.2% in 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively (shop-level profit margin measures net shop sales less shop operating expenses as a percentage of net shop sales).

Shop-level profit margin is not required by, nor presented in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”). See “Selected Financial Data” in Item 6 for a discussion of shop-level profit margin and a reconciliation of the differences between shop-level profit and income (loss) from operations, as well as a calculation of shop-level profit margin.

Our History

Potbelly started in 1977 as a small antique store on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. To boost sales, the original owner began offering toasty warm sandwiches to customers. Soon, people who had no interest in antiques were stopping by to enjoy the delicious sandwiches, homemade desserts and live music featured in the shop. As time passed, Potbelly became a well-known neighborhood destination with a loyal following of regulars and frequent lines out the door.

Potbelly opened its second shop in 1997 and continued to open shops in more neighborhoods reaching 100 shops in 2005, 200 shops in 2008, 300 shops in 2013 and 400 shops in 2016. Throughout the growth, each new shop has maintained a similar look, vibe and experience that defines the Potbelly brand. Though our shops vary in size and shape, we maintain core elements in each new location, such as fast and efficient line flow, vintage décor customized with local details and exceptional customer focus.

Just like our first shop on Lincoln Avenue, we are committed to building deep community roots in all the neighborhoods we serve.

Our Competitive Strengths

We believe the following competitive strengths provide a platform for us to achieve continued growth:

Simple, Made-to-Order Food. Our menu features items made from high quality ingredients, such as fresh vegetables, hearth-baked bread and all-natural, white meat chicken. We also use whole muscle turkey, ham and roast beef, rather than chopped and formed deli meats. See “—Our Food—Our Menu” for more information on our ingredients. Our sandwiches are made fresh to order, and many are based on the original recipes from 1977. They are served toasty warm on our signature multigrain or regular bread or on our multigrain Flats, all of which are delivered to our shops. We slice our meats and cheeses daily in each shop to ensure freshness. Our sandwiches can be customized with a variety of toppings, including our unique Potbelly hot peppers that are made with a combination of spices exclusively for us. We make our sandwiches to have the right balance of ingredients with the last bite tasting as good as the first. Our generously sized cookies are baked fresh daily in each shop, and our hand-dipped shakes, malts and smoothies are made from real ingredients and come with our signature butter cookie on the straw. Our menu regularly evolves based on

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consumer trends and customer feedback. Among other things, we solicit customer feedback quarterly via in-person “Customer Advisories” in our major markets and conduct an annual customer survey to help determine trends. See “—Our Food—Customer Feedback” for more information about these surveys. We believe our simple menu and freshly-made food offer ease of ordering and broad appeal and help us create loyal Potbelly fans that return again and again.

Differentiated Customer Experience That Delivers a Neighborhood Feel. We strive to provide a positive customer experience that is driven by both our employees and the atmosphere of our shops. We look to hire employees that are outgoing people and train them to interact with our customers in a genuine way while providing fast service. To support the neighborhood feel of our shops, most of our managers live in the neighborhood where their shop is located. We believe this allows them to get to know their customers, understand the unique character of each neighborhood and form deep roots within the community. Each of our shops features vintage décor and shared design elements, such as the use of wood, wallpaper motifs and our signature Potbelly stove. In addition, our shops display locally-themed photos and other decorative items inspired by the neighborhood. We aim to enhance our atmosphere with live, local musicians that perform weekly in the majority of our shops. Every Potbelly location strives to be “The Neighborhood Sandwich Shop,” creating devoted fans who tell others about their experience. We believe our shops are strongly integrated into the neighborhood through the use of local managers, musicians and locally-themed décor and engage with customers through initiatives such as fundraising for local causes and other promotions that cater to local interests. The unique Potbelly experience encourages repeat customer visits and drives increased sales.

Attractive Shop Economics. Our shop model is designed to generate, and has generated, strong cash flow, attractive shop-level financial results and high returns on investment. We operate our shops successfully in a wide range of geographic markets, population densities and real estate settings. We aim to generate average shop-level profit margins, a non-GAAP measure, above 20% and target cash-on-cash returns, on new company-operated shops, above 25% after two full years of operation. Our ability to achieve such margins and returns depends on a number of factors. For example, we face increasing labor and commodity costs, which we have partially offset by increasing menu prices. Although there is no guarantee that we will be able to maintain these returns, we believe our attractive shop economics support our ability to profitably grow our brand in new and existing markets.

Management Team with Substantial Operating Experience. Our senior management team has extensive operating experience across disciplines in the restaurant and retail sectors, including store operations, marketing, human resources, innovation, real estate, supply chain and finance. In 2017, we hired our President and CEO, Alan Johnson. Alan has over 30 years of executive leadership experience across a variety of retail and restaurant organizations. We believe our experienced leadership team is a key driver of our success and positions us to execute our long-term growth strategy.

Distinct, Deep-Rooted Culture: The Potbelly Advantage. We believe our culture is a key to our success. It is embodied in The Potbelly Advantage, which is an expression of our Vision, Mission, Passion and Values. The Potbelly Advantage is the written mission statement for our company that is shared with everyone who works at our company, from our top executives to shop associates. We believe such a mission statement serves as the foundation of everything we do, including how we plan and manage our business. Our Vision is to create Potbelly fans nationwide. We want our customers to feel we are their “Neighborhood Sandwich Shop” and to become Potbelly fans and advocates. Our Mission is to make our customers and employees happy, to make more money and to improve our business every day. Our Passion is to be “The Best Place for Lunch.” We strive to emphasize our Values of integrity, teamwork, accountability, positive energy, food loving and coaching throughout all levels of our organization including in our hiring process and training programs. We also place importance on values for our leaders, such as delivering results through execution and building and inspiring teams. The Potbelly Values form a common language across our organization that we believe makes Potbelly a place our employees love to work. Through our Ethics Code of Conduct, ongoing training and evaluations, we encourage our employees to perform at their personal best and help them to work together as a team to make sure we deliver a positive experience to everyone who works here. See “—Shop Operations and Management—Our People.” Our culture helps us attract and retain employees and has contributed to our better than industry average hourly turnover rate of 88% for the year ended December 31, 2017. We believe The Potbelly Advantage allows us to deliver operational excellence and grow our business and our base of devoted Potbelly fans.

Our Growth Strategy

We strive to grow profitability and create value for our stockholders by working to achieve the goals listed below. While we cannot provide assurances that we will achieve and maintain these objectives, we consider each of them to be a core strategy of our business.

Run Great Shops. We believe that continued excellence in shop-level execution is fundamental to our growth strategy. To maintain our operational standards, we use a Balanced Scorecard approach to measure People, Customers, Sales and Profits at each of our shops. Hiring the right people and maintaining optimal staffing levels enable us to run efficient operations. We track metrics such as peak hour throughput, mystery shopper scores and neighborhood engagement activities, such as fundraisers for local causes, to improve the customer experience. Shop sales and profitability are benchmarked against prior year periods and budget, and we focus on achieving targets on a shop-by-shop basis. To support our shop operators, we invest in systems and technology that can

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meaningfully improve shop-level execution. For example, we have enhanced capabilities around in-line order-taking by using a proprietary tablet system in approximately 76% of our shops as of December 31, 2017 to further increase throughput by increasing accuracy and speed of order taking. In addition, we are expanding our backline businesses, including catering, delivery and online ordering, which we view as additional growth drivers.

Find and Build Great Shops. Our company-operated shops are successful in diverse markets in 23 states and the District of Columbia, and we intend to continue to build company-operated shops in both new and existing markets utilizing our thoughtful site selection process. We evaluate a number of metrics to assess the optimal sites for our new shops, including neighborhood daytime population, site visibility, traffic and accessibility, along with an on-the-ground qualitative assessment of the characteristics of each unique trade area. This location-specific approach to development allows us to leverage our versatile shop format, which does not have standardized requirements with respect to size, shape or location, to achieve strong returns across a wide range of real estate settings. See “—Site Selection and Expansion—Shop Design” for more information about our shop requirements. In 2017, 2016 and 2015, we opened 34, 40 and 43 new company-operated shops, respectively, and expanded into Salt Lake City, San Antonio, El Paso, Indianapolis and Oklahoma City. In those same time periods, we closed nine shops, two shops and six shops, respectively, due to under-performance or lease expirations. Additionally, during July 2015 and April 2016, the Company purchased a total of two franchise shops, converting them into company-operated shops. Over the long term, we plan to grow the number of Potbelly shops, however, we cannot provide assurance that we will be able to grow Potbelly shops over any period of time or that we will be able to open any specific number of shops in any year.

Achieve High Margins and Returns. Our approach to margin enhancement begins with continuous efforts to improve the financial results of our shops. We focus on cash-on-cash returns to the company and look to grow shop-level profitability each year through sales growth and productivity improvements. We also focus on cash flow generation, which supports our self-funded development model of sourcing our liquidity and capital resource needs primarily from operating activities and cash and cash equivalents. We also have a credit facility to provide another source of liquidity and to manage cash flow timing. Currently, we have no amounts outstanding under the credit facility. We believe we exercise strong financial discipline in managing expenses and by encouraging employee efficiency with the goal of achieving and maintaining general and administrative expenses under 10% of revenue. In addition, we expect our sales and shop-level profit margin to grow faster than general and administrative expenses. For fiscal 2017, our general and administrative expenses as a percentage of total revenues were 10.4%. Our intention is to achieve average shop-level profit margins over 20% as we continue to grow. However, we cannot provide assurances that we will be able to maintain our shop-level profit margin levels or that we will be able to achieve or maintain low levels of expenses.

Become a Global Iconic Brand. We believe that our premise of a “Neighborhood Sandwich Shop” has broad appeal across a wide range of market types and geographies. Based on our management’s experience, we believe a significant contributor to this success is our passionate customers that are natural brand advocates who enjoy their Potbelly experience and tell others about it. We learn from the formal customer feedback we solicit (See “—Our Food—Customer Feedback”), and from managers and employees who interact with customers in our shops, that many customers in new markets report positive recommendations from friends and family members who live in regions with established Potbelly shops. We believe that our positive brand perception helps drive interest in our shops in both existing and new markets. We enhance this with our social and digital interactions and complement our distinctive in-shop experience with online access, allowing customers to order ahead through both our website and Potbelly app, including catering, deliver or in-shop pick up.

Be a Great Franchisor. In 2010, we initiated a program to franchise shops in selected markets in the U.S. As of December 31, 2017, we had domestic franchise shops in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. As we develop our franchise program, we intend to expand the number of franchise shops on a disciplined basis. We focus on markets we believe have appropriate characteristics for our franchise shops and on franchisees that are compatible with the Potbelly culture. As of December 31, 2017, our franchisees operated 39 shops domestically. In addition, we have signed international franchise development agreements to open franchises in the Middle East; Ontario, Canada; London, England; and Delhi, India. We have a franchise development agreement with the Alshaya Trading Company W.L.L. (“Alshaya”), a leading franchisee of retail brands, to develop shops in the Middle East. As of December 31, 2017, Alshaya operated 11 shops in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. In 2014, we entered into a franchise development agreement with Buraq Leisure (La Martina) Limited (“Buraq”), pursuant to which Buraq has the exclusive right to develop Potbelly shops in London for a period of five years. We expect Buraq to open up to ten Potbelly shops in London during that period. The first Potbelly shop in London opened in July 2015. In 2015, we entered into a franchise development agreement with Halsted Hospitality Ltd. (“Halsted”), pursuant to which Halsted has the exclusive right to develop Potbelly shops in the province of Ontario, Canada for a period of ten years. We expect Halsted to open up to 15 Potbelly shops in the first five years of the development agreement. The first Potbelly shop in Toronto, Ontario, opened in October 2016. As of December 31, 2017, Halsted operated three franchise shops in Ontario, Canada. In 2017 we entered into a franchise development agreement with Kwals Café Private Limited (“Kwals”), pursuant to which Kwals has the exclusive rights to develop Potbelly shops in certain states in India. We expect Kwals to open up to 20 Potbelly shops in the first five years of the development agreement. The first Potbelly shop in Delhi, India, opened in December 2017. See “—Franchising” for more information about our domestic and international franchise programs. Although we do

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not expect franchise activities to result in significant revenue in the near term, we see the selective expansion of our franchising efforts to be a valuable potential growth opportunity over time.

Our Food

Our Menu

Each of our shops offers freshly-made food with high quality ingredients from a simple menu. The majority of our sales are generated during lunchtime hours, but dinner and breakfast (in locations with high early morning traffic) are also important to our business. Our menu currently includes toasty warm sandwiches, signature salads, soups, chili, sides, desserts and, in our breakfast locations, breakfast sandwiches and steel cut oatmeal.

Every toasty warm sandwich on the Potbelly menu is made-to-order and customizable, with many based on the original recipes from 1977. Sandwiches are made with our signature multigrain or regular bread as “Originals” (our “regular” size), “Bigs” (30% bigger) or “Skinnys” (less meat and cheese starting under 400 calories); or on “Flats” (thin multigrain bread which is 90 calories less than our Originals). We slice our meats and cheeses daily in each shop to ensure freshness, and each of our sandwiches can be customized with a variety of toppings, including our unique Potbelly hot peppers that are made with a combination of spices exclusively for us. We believe our sandwiches have the right balance of ingredients with the last bite tasting as good as the first.

Our core sandwich offerings include Turkey Breast, Italian, Grilled Chicken and Cheddar, Smoked Ham, A Wreck, Chicken Salad, Meatball, Pizza Sandwich, Mediterranean, Roast Beef, Tuna Salad and the Turkey Club. Customers can also order off-menu sandwiches and variations on our sandwiches, including the “Wrecking Ball” (A Wreck plus meatballs), the “Lucky Seven” (which includes all seven of our sliced meat choices) and the “Cheeseburger” (the Meatball with cheddar cheese and no marinara). These items are on what our loyal fans call the “Underground Menu,” which contributes to the special connection between Potbelly and our customers.

Our shops also offer salads which are made fresh to order with high quality ingredients. Our signature salads include the Uptown Salad, Farmhouse Salad, Chicken Salad Salad, A Wreck Salad, Mediterranean Salad and Powerhouse Salad. Customers may order any of our salads without meat for a vegetarian option and may customize a salad as they desire. Salads come with a choice of dressing, including Potbelly Vinaigrette, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Buttermilk Ranch and Non-Fat Vinaigrette. We believe our signature salads are key to diversifying our menu and help ensure that there is something for everyone at our shops.

We also offer soups, chili and side dishes. Different soups are offered daily, including varieties such as Broccoli Cheddar, Chicken Noodle, Loaded Baked Potato, Chicken Enchilada and Tomato soup. We also have a vegan soup option, our Garden Vegetable. Our chili is available seven days a week and is a hearty recipe of ground beef, kidney beans, onions and bell peppers sweetened with a touch of molasses. Additionally, customers can choose side dishes of coleslaw, macaroni salad, potato salad, potato chips or a whole dill pickle.

Our hand-dipped shakes and smoothies are made with real ingredients and come with our signature butter cookie on the straw. Our classic shake and smoothie flavors are vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, banana, mixed berry, coffee and Oreo ®, and include real fruit. Our varieties of cookies are baked fresh in each shop daily and include Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Sugar and Chocolate Brownie cookies. Customers can also order an ice cream sandwich, with their choice of cookies and ice cream, or our signature chocolate and caramel Dream Bar.

Certain of our shops in areas with high early morning traffic also offer breakfast selections. As of December 31, 2017, approximately 27% of our shops offered breakfast selections. Our breakfast menu includes made-to-order breakfast sandwiches on our Flats, our signature multigrain or regular bread, or our squares and include our Mediterranean Square, Blueberry Maple Square, along with our Egg & Cheddar Cheese; Bacon, Egg & Cheddar Cheese; Sausage, Egg & Cheddar Cheese; and Ham, Mushroom, Egg & Swiss Cheese. Like our lunch and dinner sandwiches, our breakfast sandwiches are served toasty warm and any of our toppings can be added. We also offer steel cut oatmeal with toppings such as raisins, brown sugar, bananas, walnuts, apples and cranberries, and have other breakfast items available such as bagels and medium roast coffee.

Our shops use high quality ingredients such as fresh produce, which is delivered two to three times per week, hearth-baked bread, and whole-block cheeses sliced daily in our shops. We use all-natural white meat chicken in our sandwiches and salads. Our turkey, hickory-smoked ham and black angus roast beef are all whole-muscle meats sliced daily in our shops. Our dry-cured salami is made with fresh garlic and real red wine and we use white albacore tuna in our homemade tuna salad.

Overall, we believe our menu of high quality food at reasonable prices offers considerable value to our customers. In fiscal 2017, our system-wide average check was approximately $8.12. We generally do not discount our menu items in order to help ensure that we are able to maintain our high standards, as opposed to the discounting programs implemented by some other restaurant operators aimed at increasing traffic and revenue but that may impact profitability and quality.

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Customer Feedback

We seek customer feedback on our food and operations in various ways. For example, we conduct an annual customer survey via email to learn what our customers think about us. We circulate a voluntary online survey to each customer listed in our company-wide email database, which includes email addresses obtained through our website, customer complaints and compliments, our in-shop business card drop, our Facebook page and other methods. In 2017, we sent the online survey to approximately 331,000 customers, with 16,000 customers electing to participate. Customers who take the annual survey were entered into a drawing for a nominal Potbelly gift card.

We also solicit feedback via quarterly in-person “Customer Advisories” in each of our major markets of Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Dallas. At each “Customer Advisory,” certain executives and local managers meet with approximately ten customers to get feedback on our products and initiatives. The customers who participate are selected from those listed in our company-wide email database as having recently dined at Potbelly. Our marketing team strives to have participants who are representative of the diverse customers who patronize the specific shop. Customer participants in each “Customer Advisory” receive a nominal Potbelly gift card as a thank you for their participation.

Evolution of Our Menu

We have selectively expanded our menu offerings in response to shifts in customer tastes and demand. For example, we began offering breakfast items in 2001, Bigs and Skinnys in 2008 and Flats in 2014. We also introduced the all-veggie Mediterranean sandwich in 2012, the Mediterranean salad in 2014, the Powerhouse salad in 2016 and the Turkey Club in 2017, as well as periodic limited time offers. We believe menu innovation is a way for us to continue to grow our business, responding to consumer trends, listening to customer feedback, and understanding customer’s needs. This innovation includes the on-going development of craveable add-ons to the development of premium protein sandwiches served toasty warm from our ovens, while continuing to encourage customization and personalization by each customer.

Food Preparation and Safety

Food safety is a top priority, and we dedicate substantial resources, including our supply chain team and quality assurance teams, to help ensure that our customers enjoy safe, quality food products. We have taken various steps to mitigate food quality and safety risks, including having personnel focused on this goal together with our supply chain team. Our shops undergo third-party food safety reviews, internal safety audits and routine health inspections. We also consider food safety and quality assurance when selecting our distributors and suppliers.

Shop Operations and Management

We believe having an excellent manager in each shop is a critical factor in achieving continuous excellence in operations. Managers hire our employees, help ensure consistent execution of our menu items and strive to achieve specific targets that are evaluated on a quarterly basis. We devote significant time and resources to identifying, selecting and training our managers who plan, manage and operate their shops and who, along with our employees, provide a positive customer experience to our Potbelly fans. We believe our comprehensive processes for developing business leaders, such as our shop managers, are a key factor in driving our success.

Potbelly Operations

Our operations are structured around the elements of People, Customers, Sales and Profits. During our peak hours of 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., our employees greet our customers and take their orders (in some shops, we take their orders while they wait in line by using a proprietary tablet system to communicate with our preparation employees). We focus on effective communication, technology and management to provide a quick and seamless experience for our customers. In addition, each shop completes quarterly tactical plans designed to help the shop achieve its targets relative to each element. In order to better assess and improve the Potbelly experience, we use a Balanced Scorecard that tracks elements such as sales and profitability metrics, employee turnover and a “mystery shopper” score, which essentially is a survey of customer satisfaction with the Potbelly experience. We review overall scores locally, regionally and nationally in order to assess our operational progress and identify areas of operational focus. Attaining certain ratings on the Balanced Scorecard allows a shop to be eligible for incentive targets paid quarterly and annual merit awards.

Our People

We look to attract, hire and retain smart, talented and outgoing people who share and demonstrate our values. We value friendly employees who engage with our customers in a genuine way to provide a personalized experience. We select employees using interview questions based on our values to determine the extent of candidate fit. All employees attend culture training classes that include team exercises and scenarios to practice utilizing the tools relative to our values of integrity, teamwork, accountability,

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positive energy and coaching. We strive to empower our employees to do what is right and encourage them to perform at their personal best. We believe we make expectations and accountabilities clear through our culture training and our Ethics Code of Conduct, which summarizes employee conduct guidelines and is required to be reviewed and signed by every employee upon hire and repeated annually. We believe we encourage each employee to perform at their personal best by establishing personal and professional goals through an ongoing continuous development plan. We believe the success of these programs is evident in our turnover rates and our internal promotion rates. Employees are further encouraged to perform at their personal best through an ongoing scorecard measuring system that is tied directly to a pay for performance compensation program. We believe our sustainable process to hire, train and develop our people enables us to deliver a positive customer experience. A typical Potbelly shop consists of one manager, one assistant manager and as many as 12 to 16 employees during our peak hours.

Most of our managers live in the neighborhood in which their shop is located. We believe this allows them to get to know their customers, understand the unique character of each neighborhood and form deep roots within the community. The shop manager has primary responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the shop and is required to abide by Potbelly’s operating standards. Our Management Training Program provides new managers with six to eight weeks of training that emphasizes culture, standards, strategy and procedures to prepare them for success, and is followed by on-going, in-shop coaching with their District or Market manager. Our shop managers report to District or Market Managers who typically report to a Zone Manager, and ultimately to our Senior Vice President of Operations. In addition, members of senior management visit shops regularly to help ensure that our culture, strategy and quality standards are being adhered to in all aspects of our operations.

Shop managers are responsible for selecting, hiring and training the employees for each new shop. The training period for new non-management employees lasts approximately eight weeks and is characterized by on-the-job supervision by an experienced employee. Ongoing employee training remains the responsibility of the shop manager, but, as noted above, we provide specific training for our employees around The Potbelly Advantage each year. Special emphasis is placed on the safety, consistency and quality of food preparation and service, which is monitored through ongoing coaching sessions and meetings with managers. In addition, we have other continuing communications with all of our employees on food safety and preparation standards.

The Potbelly Experience

We seek to deliver a positive experience for every customer at every opportunity through our tasty food, unique atmosphere and outgoing and engaging employees. We seek to staff each shop with experienced teams to ensure consistent and attentive customer service. We look to hire employees who are friendly and responsive to the needs of our customers as they assist them in selecting menu items complementing individual preferences. We strive to staff at 110% during peak hours to ensure a fast yet personal Potbelly experience for each customer, with face-to-face interaction from start to finish. We also provide backline services, including catering, delivery and online ordering to serve our Potbelly fans.

In addition, music has been integral to the Potbelly culture since our first shop opened in 1977 and adds a neighborhood vibe. Local musicians frequently perform live at Potbelly shops creating a distinctive dining experience.

We believe the combination of our great food, people and atmosphere makes Potbelly “The Best Place for Lunch.”

Site Selection and Expansion

We believe we are well positioned to continue growth in our existing markets and have significant expansion potential in new geographic areas throughout the United States. As of December 31, 2017, we had a domestic base of 475 shops in 31 states and the District of Columbia. Of these, the company operates 437 shops and franchisees operate 39 shops. In addition, there are 16 international franchised shops, including 11 shops in the Middle East, one shop in the United Kingdom, three shops in Canada and one in India.

Over the long-term, we plan to continue to grow the number of Potbelly shops. In 2017, 2016 and 2015, we opened 34, 40 and 43 new company-operated shops, respectively, and expanded into Salt Lake City, San Antonio, El Paso, Indianapolis and Oklahoma City. Additionally, during July 2015 and April 2016, the Company purchased a total of two franchise shops, converting them into company-operated shops. We cannot provide assurance that we will be able to grow the number of Potbelly shops in any year or over any period of time or that we will be able to open any specific number of shops in any year.

Our proven shop model is designed to generate strong cash flow, attractive shop-level financial results and high returns on investment. With an average new shop investment of approximately $600,000 and average unit volumes in excess of $1 million, which represent the average net sandwich shop sales for all shops on an annual basis, we strive to generate average shop-level profit margins, a non-GAAP measure, above 20% and cash-on-cash returns, on new company-operated shops, above 25% after two full years of operation. However, we cannot provide any assurances that we will achieve and maintain similar profit margins or cash returns in the future.

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Site Selection Process

We consider the location of a shop to be a critical variable in its long-term success and as such, we devote significant effort to the investigation and evaluation of potential locations. We actively develop shops in both new and existing markets and plan to continue to expand in selected regions throughout the United States. Our Real Estate Committee, which includes most of our senior management team, meets twice a month to discuss all aspects of our development program. The process for selecting locations incorporates management’s experience and expertise and includes extensive data collection and analysis. We proactively seek new shop locations based on specific criteria, such as demographic characteristics, daytime population thresholds and traffic patterns, along with the potential visibility of, and accessibility to, the shop. Additionally, we use information and intelligence gathered from managers and other shop personnel that live in or near the neighborhoods we are considering. New shops are built with only one purpose in mind: to generate cash flow that meets or exceeds those modeled in our return targets. We are disciplined in our development, and we routinely forego sites that have many positive attributes, including strong visibility and street presence, but have challenging economics, such as high occupancy costs.

Since we do not have standardized requirements with respect to size, shape or location, we are flexible in our site selection process. This allows us to choose and open shops with a wide variety of shapes in a wide variety of areas, including in urban central business districts and suburban areas near shopping malls or other high-traffic locations. Proposed locations are visited, reviewed and approved by key members of our Real Estate Committee.

Shop Design

We strive to create a unique customer experience that delivers a neighborhood feel for each shop. We typically design the interior of our shops in-house, utilizing outside architects when necessary. Our design team sources most furnishings and decorations for our shops. Each of our shops features vintage décor and shared design elements, such as the use of wood, wallpaper motifs and our signature Potbelly stove. Consistent with The Potbelly Advantage, our shops display locally-themed photos and other decorative items inspired by the neighborhood. Most of our shops also feature a space for musicians to perform. Our shop size averages approximately 2,300 square feet; however, we currently target shop sizes between 1,800 and 2,500 square feet for new openings. The dining area of a typical shop can seat anywhere from 40 to 60 people. Some of our shops incorporate larger dining areas and outdoor patios. We believe the unique atmosphere and local music creates a lively place where friends and family can get together, encourages repeat visits by our customers and drives increased sales.

Construction

Construction of a new shop generally takes approximately 50 to 70 days from the date the location is leased or under contract, fully permitted and the landlord has delivered the space to Potbelly. Each new shop requires a total cash investment of approximately $600,000, but this figure could be materially higher or lower depending on the market, shop size and condition of the premises upon landlord delivery. We generally construct shops in third-party leased retail space but also construct free-standing buildings on leased properties. In the future, we intend to continue converting existing third-party leased retail space or constructing new shops in the majority of circumstances. For additional information regarding our leases, see “—Properties” in Item 2.

Franchising

In 2010, we initiated a program to selectively franchise our shops to take advantage of incremental growth opportunities. We intend to expand the number of franchise shops on a disciplined basis as we develop our franchise program. As of December 31, 2017, we had 39 domestic franchised shops in 17 states.

In 2011, our first international franchise shop opened with Alshaya, our first international franchise partner. As of December 31, 2017, Alshaya operated 11 franchised shops in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates and has exclusive franchising rights in the Middle East. Our agreement with Alshaya provides that Alshaya may also open shops in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In 2014, we entered into a franchise development agreement with Buraq, pursuant to which Buraq has the exclusive right to develop Potbelly shops in London for a period of five years. We expect Buraq to open up to ten Potbelly shops in London during that period. The first Potbelly shop in London opened in July 2015. In 2015, we entered into a franchise development agreement with Halsted, pursuant to which Halsted has the exclusive right to develop Potbelly shops in the province of Ontario, Canada for a period of ten years. The first Potbelly shop in Toronto, Ontario opened in October 2016. As of December 31, 2017, Halstead operated three franchise shops in Ontario, Canada. We expect Halsted to open a total of up to 15 Potbelly shops in the first five years of the development agreement. In 2017 we entered into a franchise development agreement with Kwals, pursuant to which Kwals has the exclusive rights to develop Potbelly shops in certain states in India.  We expect Kwals to open up to 20 Potbelly shops in the first five years of the development agreement. The first Potbelly shop in Delhi, India, opened in December 2017.

We look for franchisees who love working with a team and have solid business experience, financial qualifications and personal motivation. Our franchise arrangements grant third parties a license to establish and operate a shop using our systems and our trademarks. The franchisee pays us for the ideas, strategy, marketing, operating system, training, purchasing power and brand recognition. All new U.S. franchisees participate in an eight to twelve-week training program consisting of real life experience in our

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company-operated shops, as well as training at our Potbelly Support Center in Chicago. Franchised shops must be operated in compliance with our methods, standards and specifications, regarding menu items, ingredients, materials, supplies, services, fixtures, furnishings, décor and signs. Although we do not expect franchise activities to result in significant revenue in the near term, we see the selective expansion of our franchising efforts to be a valuable potential growth opportunity over time.

Advertising and Marketing

We believe our shops appeal to a broad base of loyal customers who return again and again for our great food and fun environment staffed by friendly people. Historically, one to two percent of our annual revenue has been spent on marketing efforts. A portion of our marketing budget is spent at the shop level, with the goal of building relationships within our neighborhoods to increase the frequency of return visits and attract new customers. Our methods of marketing and advertising promote and maintain the Potbelly brand image and, among other things, generate awareness of shop locations and new menu offerings.

Neighborhood Shop Marketing

Consistent with our neighborhood approach, a portion of our marketing investments are made at the shop level. Neighborhood shops frequently hire local musicians and hold a variety of community events, including fundraisers. For example, during a “Shake Fundraiser” for smaller community organizations, Potbelly donates a portion of sales for each customized milkshake sold. For larger organizations, Potbelly sponsors local cause fundraisers, where 25% of sales gathered at the event are donated to the organization’s cause. Our shops promote these events and other events through social media, public relations, in-shop materials and local support, which results in increased traffic. Additionally, we engage in a variety of promotional activities, such as contributing food, time and money to charitable, civic and cultural programs in order to give back to the communities we serve and increase public awareness and appreciation of our shops and our employees.

Advertising

We also promote our shops through local media in markets in which we have scale. The uses of digital and outdoor media are the most common advertising vehicles used in these markets. Additionally, we rely on in-shop materials to communicate and market to our customers. In the end, our best advertising comes from our customers. We believe the Potbelly experience fosters strong customer loyalty and encourages our fans to promote the brand through word-of-mouth marketing.

E-Marketing and Social Media

We have increased our use of e-marketing tools, which enable us to reach a significant number of people in a timely and targeted fashion at a fraction of the cost of traditional media. We believe that our customers are frequent internet users and will use social media to make dining decisions or to share dining experiences. We have a Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter feed and advertise on various social media and other websites. We also use our Potbelly App and Potbelly Perks program to communicate with our customers and personalize offers for them, where they can order ahead, pay with their phone and earn tasty “surprise and delight” treats.

Sourcing and Supply Chain

Our supply chain team sources, negotiates and purchases food supplies for our shops. We believe in using high quality ingredients while maintaining our value position in the marketplace. We benchmark our products against the competition using consumer panels. We contract with Distribution Market Advantage, Inc., or DMA, a cooperative of multiple food distributors located throughout the nation. DMA is a broker with whom we negotiate and gain access to third-party food distributors and suppliers. For fiscal year 2017, distributors through our DMA arrangement supplied us with approximately 95% of our food supplies through six primary distributors: Reinhart FoodService, L.L.C., Ben E. Keith Company, Food Services of America, Shamrock Foods, Gordon Food Service and Nicholas & Co. Our remaining food supplies are distributed by other distributors under separate contracts. Our distributors deliver supplies to our shops approximately two to three times per week.

We negotiate pricing and volume terms directly with certain of our suppliers and distributors or through DMA. Our supply chain team utilizes a mix of forward pricing protocols for certain items under which we agree with our supplier on fixed prices for deliveries at some time in the future, fixed pricing protocols under which we agree on a fixed price with our supplier for the duration of that protocol, and formula pricing protocols under which the prices we pay are based on a specified formula related to the prices of the goods, such as spot prices. Our use of any forward pricing arrangements varies substantially from time to time and these arrangements tend to cover relatively short periods (i.e., typically 12 months or less).

Currently we have pricing arrangements of varying lengths with our distributors and suppliers, including distributors and suppliers of meats, dairy, bread, cookie dough and other products. Meats represent about 26% of our product purchasing composition. In fiscal year 2017, more than 98% of our meat products were sourced from 10 suppliers under non-exclusive contracts. We have a

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non-exclusive contract with Campagna-Turano Bakery, Inc. for our signature multigrain bread. Campagna-Turano Bakery, Inc. produces bread items in a primary and secondary production facility. We have secondary suppliers in place for many of our significant meats, and we believe we would be able to source our meat and bread requirements from different suppliers if doing so became necessary. However, changes in the price or availability of certain products may affect the profitability of certain items, our ability to maintain existing prices and our ability to purchase sufficient amounts of items to satisfy our customers’ demands.

Many of our products, ingredients and supplies are currently sourced from multiple suppliers. Additionally, our supply chain team has established contingency plans for many key products. For example, manufacturers of certain products maintain alternative production facilities capable of satisfying our requirements should the primary facility experience interruptions. For other products, we believe we have identified alternate suppliers that could meet our requirements at competitive prices or, in some cases, have identified a product match that could be used in our shops. Our supply chain team regularly updates our procurement strategies to include contingency plans for new products and ingredients, as well as additional secondary and alternate suppliers. We believe these strategies would collectively enable us to obtain sufficient product quantities from other sources at competitive prices without material disruption should a current supplier be unable to fulfill its commitment to us.

Management Information Systems

Shop-level financial and accounting controls are handled through a point-of-sale computer system and network in each shop that communicates with our corporate headquarters. The POS system is also used to authorize and transmit credit card sales transactions and to manage the business and control costs, such as labor. Our company-operated shops are connected through data centers and a portal to provide our corporate employees with access to business information and tools that allow them to collaborate, communicate, train and share information between shops and the corporate office. We believe our systems currently comply with all credit card industry security standards for processing of credit and gift cards.

Competition

We compete in the restaurant industry, primarily in the limited-service restaurant segment but also with restaurants in the full-service restaurant segment, and face significant competition from a wide variety of restaurants, convenience stores and other outlets on a national, regional and local level. We believe that we compete primarily based on product quality, restaurant concept, service, convenience, value perception and price. Our competition continues to intensify as competitors increase the breadth and depth of their product offerings and open new units. Although new competitors may emerge at any time due to the low barriers to entry, our competitors include: Chipotle, Jimmy John’s, Panera Bread and Subway, among others. Additionally, we compete with limited-service restaurants, specialty restaurants and other retail concepts for prime shop locations.

Government Regulation

We and our franchisees are subject to various federal, state, local and international laws affecting our business. Each of our shops is subject to licensing and regulation by a number of governmental authorities, which may include, among others, health and safety, nutritional menu labeling, health care, environmental and fire agencies in the state, municipality or country in which the shop is located. Difficulty in obtaining or failing to obtain the required licenses or approvals could delay or prevent the development of a new shop in a particular area. Additionally, difficulties or inabilities to retain or renew licenses, or increased compliance costs due to changed regulations, could adversely affect operations at existing shops.

Our shop operations are also subject to federal and state labor laws, including the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act and the U.S. Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, governing such matters as minimum wages, overtime and worker conditions. Significant numbers of our food service and preparation personnel are paid at rates related to the applicable minimum wage, and further increases in the minimum wage or other changes in these laws could increase our labor costs. Our ability to respond to minimum wage increases by increasing menu prices will depend on the responses of our competitors and customers. 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.

We and our franchisees may also be subject to lawsuits from our employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or others alleging violations of federal and state laws regarding workplace and employment matters, discrimination and similar matters.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (the “PPACA”) enacted in March 2010 requires chain restaurants with 20 or more locations in the United States to comply with federal nutritional disclosure requirements. The FDA issued final regulations with regard to restaurant menu labeling that is schedule to become effective May 7, 2018. A number of states, counties and cities have also enacted menu labeling laws requiring multi-unit restaurant operators to disclose certain nutritional information to customers, or have enacted legislation restricting the use of certain types of ingredients in restaurants. Although the federal legislation is intended to

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preempt conflicting state or local laws on nutrition labeling, until we are required to comply with the federal law we will be subject to a patchwork of state and local laws and regulations regarding nutritional content disclosure requirements. Many of these requirements are inconsistent or are interpreted differently from one jurisdiction to another. While our ability to adapt to consumer preferences is a strength of our concepts, the effect of such labeling requirements on consumer choices, if any, is unclear at this time.

There is also a potential for increased regulation of certain food establishments in the United States, where compliance with a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (“HACCP”) approach may now be required. HACCP refers to a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of potential hazards from production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product. Many states have required restaurants to develop and implement HACCP Systems and the United States government continues to expand the sectors of the food industry that must adopt and implement HACCP programs. For example, the Food Safety Modernization Act (“FSMA”), signed into law in January 2011, granted the United States Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”) new authority regarding the safety of the entire food system, including through increased inspections and mandatory food recalls. Although restaurants are specifically exempted from or not directly implicated by some of these new requirements, we anticipate that the new requirements may impact our industry. Additionally, our suppliers may initiate or otherwise be subject to food recalls that may impact the availability of certain products, result in adverse publicity or require us to take actions that could be costly for us or otherwise harm our business.

We and our franchisees are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”), which, among other things, requires our shops to meet federally mandated requirements for the disabled. The ADA prohibits discrimination in employment and public accommodations on the basis of disability. Under the ADA, we and our franchisees could be required to expend funds to modify our shops to provide service to, or make reasonable accommodations for the employment of, disabled persons. In addition, our employment practices are subject to the requirements of the Immigration and Naturalization Service relating to citizenship and residency. Government regulations could affect and change the items we procure for resale. We and our franchisees may also become subject to legislation or regulation seeking to tax and/or regulate high-fat and high-sodium foods, particularly in the United States, which could be costly to comply with. Our results can be impacted by tax legislation and regulation in the jurisdictions in which we operate and by accounting standards or pronouncements.

We and our franchisees are also subject to laws and regulations relating to information security, privacy, cashless payments, gift cards and consumer credit, protection and fraud, and any failure or perceived failure to comply with these laws and regulations could harm our reputation or lead to litigation, which could adversely affect our financial condition.

Our franchising activities are subject to the rules and regulations of the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and various state laws regulating the offer and sale of franchises. The FTC’s franchise rule and various state laws require that we furnish a franchise disclosure document (“FDD”) containing certain information to prospective franchisees and a number of states require registration of the FDD with state authorities. Substantive state laws that regulate the franchisor-franchisee relationship exist in a substantial number of states, and bills have been introduced in Congress from time to time that would provide for federal regulation of the franchisor-franchisee relationship. The state laws often limit, among other things, the duration and scope of non-competition provisions, the ability of a franchisor to terminate or refuse to renew a franchise and the ability of a franchisor to designate sources of supply. We believe that our FDDs, together with any applicable state versions or supplements, and franchising procedures comply in all material respects with both the FTC franchise rule and all applicable state laws regulating franchising in those states in which we have offered franchises.

See “Risk Factors” in Item 1A for a discussion of risks relating to federal, state, local and international regulation of our business.

Seasonality

Our business is subject to seasonal fluctuations. Historically, customer spending patterns for our established shops are lowest in the first quarter of the year. Our quarterly results have been and will continue to be affected by the timing of new shop openings and their associated pre-opening costs. As a result of these and other factors, our financial results for any quarter may not be indicative of the results that may be achieved for a full fiscal year.

Employees

As of December 31, 2017, we employed approximately 7,300 persons, of which approximately 200 are corporate personnel, 680 are shop management personnel and the remainder are hourly shop personnel.

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Intellectual Property and Trademarks

We regard our “Potbelly” and “Potbelly Sandwich Works” trademarks as having significant value and as being important factors in the marketing of our shops. We have also obtained trademarks for several of our other menu items, such as “A Wreck,” and for various advertising slogans, including “Good Vibes, Great Sandwiches” and “A First Class Dive.” We are aware of names and marks similar to the trademarks of ours used by other persons in certain geographic areas in which we have shops. However, we believe such uses will not adversely affect us. Our policy is to pursue registration of our intellectual property whenever possible and to oppose vigorously any infringement thereof.

We license the use of our registered trademarks to franchisees through franchise arrangements. The franchise arrangements restrict franchisees’ activities with respect to the use of our trademarks and impose quality control standards in connection with goods and services offered in connection with the trademarks.

Available Information

We were incorporated in Delaware in June 2001 as Potbelly Sandwich Works, Inc. and changed our name to Potbelly Corporation in 2002. Our principal offices are located at 111 North Canal Street, Suite 850, Chicago, Illinois 60606 and our telephone number is (312) 951-0600. We maintain a website with the address www.potbelly.com. On our website, we make available at no charge our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, all amendments to those reports, and our proxy statement, as soon as reasonably practicable after these materials are filed with or furnished to the SEC. Our filings are also available on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. The public may read and copy any materials that we file with the SEC at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, NE, Washington, D.C. 20549. The public may also obtain information on the operation of the Public Reference Room by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330. The contents of our website are not incorporated by reference into this Form 10-K.

 

 

ITEM 1A.

RISK FACTORS

You should carefully consider the following factors, which could materially affect our business, financial condition or results of operations. You should read these Risk Factors in conjunction with “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Item 7 and our consolidated financial statements and the related notes to those statements included in Item 8.

Risks Related to Our Business and Industry

We face significant competition for customers and our inability to compete effectively may affect our traffic, sales and shop-level profit margins, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The restaurant industry is intensely competitive with many well-established companies that compete directly and indirectly with us with respect to food quality, ambience, service, price and value and location. We compete in the restaurant industry with national, regional and locally-owned limited-service restaurants and full-service restaurants. Some of our competitors have significantly greater financial, marketing, personnel and other resources than we do, and many of our competitors are well established in markets in which we have existing shops or intend to locate new shops. In addition, many of our competitors have greater name recognition nationally or in some of the local markets in which we have shops. Any inability to successfully compete with the restaurants in our markets will place downward pressure on our customer traffic and may prevent us from increasing or sustaining our revenues and profitability. 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. Further, we face growing competition from the supermarket industry, with the improvement of their “convenient meals” in the deli section, and from limited-service and fast casual restaurants, as a result of higher-quality food and beverage offerings by those restaurants. In addition, some of our competitors have in the past implemented programs which provide price discounts on certain menu offerings, and they may continue to do so in the future. If we are unable to continue to compete effectively, our traffic, sales and shop-level profit margins could decline and our business, financial condition and results of operations would be adversely affected.

Economic conditions in the United States could materially affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The restaurant industry depends on consumer discretionary spending. During periods of economic downturn, continuing disruptions in the overall economy, including the impacts of high unemployment and financial market volatility and unpredictability, may cause a related reduction in consumer confidence, which could negatively affect customer traffic and sales throughout our industry. These factors, as well as national, regional and local regulatory and economic conditions, gasoline prices, disposable consumer income and consumer confidence, affect discretionary consumer spending. If economic conditions worsen, customer traffic could be adversely impacted if our customers choose to dine out less frequently or reduce the amount they spend on meals while

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dining out. If negative economic conditions persist for a long period of time or become pervasive, consumer changes to their discretionary spending behavior, including the frequency with which they dine out, could be more permanent. The U.S. economy is likely to be affected by many national and international factors that are beyond our control. If sales decrease, our profitability could decline as we spread fixed costs across a lower level of sales. Prolonged negative trends in shop sales could cause us to, among other things, reduce the number and frequency of new shop openings, close shops or delay remodeling of our existing shops or take asset impairment charges.

Increased commodity, energy and other costs could decrease our shop-level profit margins or cause us to limit or otherwise modify our menus, which could adversely affect our business.

Our profitability depends in part on our ability to anticipate and react to changes in the price and availability of food commodities, including among other things beef, poultry, grains, dairy and produce. Prices may be affected due to market changes, increased competition, the general risk of inflation, shortages or interruptions in supply due to weather, disease or other conditions beyond our control, or other reasons. Other events could increase commodity prices or cause shortages that could affect the cost and quality of the items we buy or require us to further raise prices or limit our menu options. These events, combined with other more general economic and demographic conditions, could impact our pricing and negatively affect our sales and shop-level profit margins. We enter into certain forward pricing arrangements with our suppliers from time to time, which may result in fixed or formula-based pricing with respect to certain food products. See “Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk—Commodity Price Risk” in Item 7A. However, these arrangements generally are relatively short in duration and may provide only limited protection from price changes, and the extent to which we use these arrangements varies substantially from time to time. In addition, the use of these arrangements may limit our ability to benefit from favorable price movements.

Our profitability is also adversely affected by increases in the price of utilities, such as natural gas, whether as a result of inflation, shortages or interruptions in supply, or otherwise. Our profitability is also affected by the costs of insurance, labor, marketing, taxes and real estate, all of which could increase due to inflation, changes in laws, competition or other events beyond our control. Our ability to respond to increased costs by increasing menu prices or by implementing alternative processes or products will depend on our ability to anticipate and react to such increases and other more general economic and demographic conditions, as well as the responses of our competitors and customers. All of these things may be difficult to predict and beyond our control. In this manner, increased costs could adversely affect our performance.

Our inability to identify qualified individuals for our workforce could slow our growth and adversely impact our ability to operate our shops.

Our success depends in part upon our ability to attract, motivate and retain a sufficient number of qualified managers and associates to meet the needs of our existing shops and to staff new shops. A sufficient number of qualified individuals to fill these positions may be in short supply in some communities. Competition in these communities for qualified staff could require us to pay higher wages and provide greater benefits. In addition, significant improvement in regional or national economic conditions could increase the difficulty of attracting and retaining qualified individuals and could result in the need to pay higher wages and provide greater benefits. We place a heavy emphasis on the qualification and training of our personnel and spend a significant amount of time and money on training our employees. Any inability to recruit and retain qualified individuals may result in higher turnover and increased labor costs, and could compromise the quality of our service, all of which could adversely affect our business. Any such inability could also delay the planned openings of new shops and could adversely impact our existing shops. Any such inability to retain or recruit qualified employees, increased costs of attracting qualified employees or delays in shop openings could adversely affect our business and results of operations.

Our business operations and future development could be significantly disrupted if we lose key members of our management team.

The success of our business continues to depend to a significant degree upon the continued contributions of our senior officers and key employees, both individually and as a group. Our future performance will be substantially dependent on our ability to retain and motivate key members of our senior leadership team. We currently have employment agreements in place with all of the members of our senior leadership team. The loss of the services of any of these executive officers or other key employees could have a material adverse effect on our business and plans for future development. In addition, we may have difficulty finding appropriate replacements and our business could suffer. We also do not maintain any key man life insurance policies for any of our employees.

Food safety and food-borne illness concerns may have an adverse effect on our business by reducing demand and increasing costs.

Food safety is a top priority, and we dedicate substantial resources to help ensure that our customers enjoy safe, quality food products. However, food-borne illnesses and food safety issues have occurred in the food industry in the past, and could occur in the future. Any report or publicity linking us to instances of food-borne illness or other food safety issues, including food tampering or contamination, could adversely affect our brand and reputation as well as our revenues and profits. In addition, instances of food-

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borne illness, food tampering or food contamination occurring solely at restaurants of our competitors could result in negative publicity about the food service industry generally and adversely impact our sales.

Furthermore, 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 locations would be affected rather than a single shop. We cannot assure that all food items are properly maintained during transport throughout the supply chain and that our employees will identify all products that may be spoiled and should not be used in our shops. If our customers become ill from food-borne illnesses, we could be forced to temporarily close some shops. Furthermore, any instances of food contamination, whether or not at our shops, could subject us or our suppliers to a food recall pursuant to the FSMA.

Our long-term success is highly dependent on our ability to successfully identify and secure appropriate sites and develop and expand our operations in existing and new markets.

One of the key means of achieving our growth strategies will be through opening new shops and operating those shops on a profitable basis. We expect this to be the case for the foreseeable future. We opened 34 new company-operated shops in 2017. We must identify target markets where we can enter or expand, taking into account numerous factors such as the location of our current shops, demographics, traffic patterns and information gathered from local employees. We may not be able to open our planned new shops on a timely basis, if at all, given the uncertainty of these factors. In the past, we have experienced delays in opening some shops and that could happen again. Delays or failures in opening new restaurants could adversely affect our business and results of operations. As we operate more shops, our rate of expansion relative to the size of our restaurant base will eventually decline.

The number and timing of new shops opened during any given period may be negatively impacted by a number of factors including, without limitation:

 

the identification and availability of attractive sites for new shops and the ability to negotiate suitable lease terms;

 

competition in new markets, including competition for appropriate sites;

 

anticipated commercial, residential and infrastructure development near our new shops;

 

the proximity of potential sites to an existing shop;

 

the cost and availability of capital to fund construction costs and pre-opening expenses;

 

our ability to control construction and development costs of new shops;

 

recruitment and training of qualified operating personnel in the local market;

 

our ability to obtain all required governmental permits, including zoning approvals, on a timely basis;

 

unanticipated increases in costs, any of which could give rise to delays or cost overruns; and

 

avoiding the impact of inclement weather, natural disasters and other calamities.

We cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully expand or acquire critical market presence for our brand in new geographical markets, as we may encounter well-established competitors with substantially greater financial resources. We may be unable to find and secure attractive locations, build name recognition, successfully market our brand or attract new customers. Competitive circumstances and consumer characteristics and preferences in new market segments and new geographical markets may differ substantially from those in the market segments and geographical markets in which we have substantial experience. If we are unable to expand in existing markets or penetrate new markets, our ability to increase our revenues and profitability may be harmed.

Our expansion into new markets may present increased risks.

We plan to open shops in markets where we have little or no operating experience. Shops we open in new markets may take longer to reach expected sales and profit levels on a consistent basis and may have higher construction, occupancy or operating costs than shops we open in existing markets, thereby affecting our overall profitability. New markets may have competitive conditions, consumer tastes and discretionary spending patterns that are more difficult to predict or satisfy than our existing markets. We may need to make greater investments than we originally planned in advertising and promotional activity in new markets to build brand awareness. We may find it more difficult in new markets to hire, motivate and keep qualified employees who share our values. We may also incur higher costs from entering new markets if, for example, we assign area managers to manage comparatively fewer shops than we assign in more developed markets. As a result, these new shops may be less successful or may achieve target shop-level profit margins at a slower rate. If we do not successfully execute our plans to enter new markets, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be adversely affected.

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New shops, once opened, may not be profitable, and the results that we have experienced in the past may not be indicative of future results.

Our results have been, and in the future may continue to be, significantly impacted by the timing of new shop openings (often dictated by factors outside of our control), including associated shop pre-opening costs and operating inefficiencies, as well as changes in our geographic concentration due to the opening of new shops. We typically incur the most significant portion of pre-opening expenses associated with a given shop within the five months immediately preceding and the month of the opening of the shop. Our experience has been that labor and operating costs associated with a newly opened shop for the first several months of operation are materially greater than what can be expected after that time, both in aggregate dollars and as a percentage of revenues. Our new shops commonly take 10 to 13 weeks to reach planned operating levels due to inefficiencies typically associated with new shops, including the training of new personnel, lack of market awareness, inability to hire sufficient qualified staff and other factors. We may incur additional costs in new markets, particularly for transportation, distribution and training of new personnel, which may impact the profitability of those shops. Accordingly, the volume and timing of new shop openings may have a meaningful impact on our profitability.

Although we target specified operating and financial metrics, new shops may not meet these targets or may take longer than anticipated to do so. Any new shops we open may not be profitable or achieve operating results similar to those of our existing shops. For example, the Company closed eight and two underperforming shops in 2017 and 2016, respectively. If our new shops do not perform as planned, our business and future prospects could be harmed. In addition, if we are unable to achieve our expected comparable store sales, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be adversely affected.

Our sales and profit growth could be adversely affected if comparable store sales are less than we expect.

The level of comparable store sales, which represent the change in year-over-year sales for company-operated shops open for 15 months or longer, will affect our sales growth and will continue to be a critical factor affecting profit growth. Our ability to increase comparable store sales depends in part on our ability to successfully implement our initiatives to build sales. It is possible such initiatives will not be successful, that we will not achieve our target comparable store sales growth or that the change in comparable store sales could be negative, which may cause a decrease in sales and profit growth that would adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Our failure to manage our growth effectively could harm our business and operating results.

Our growth plan includes a significant number of new shops. Our existing management systems, financial and management controls and information systems may not be adequate to support our planned expansion. Our ability to manage our growth effectively will require us to continue to enhance these systems, procedures and controls and to locate, hire, train and retain management and operating personnel. We may not be able to respond on a timely basis to all of the changing demands that our planned expansion will impose on management and on our existing infrastructure, or be able to hire or retain the necessary management and operating personnel, which could harm our business, financial condition or results of operations.

The planned increase in the number of our shops may make our future results unpredictable.

In 2017, we opened 34 company-operated shops and 16 franchisee-operated shops, and we plan to continue to increase the number of our shops in the next several years. This growth strategy and the substantial investment associated with the development of each new shop may cause our operating results to fluctuate and be unpredictable or adversely affect our profits. Our future results depend on various factors, including successful selection of new markets and shop locations, local market acceptance of our shops, consumer recognition of the quality of our food and willingness to pay our prices, the quality of our operations and general economic conditions. In addition, as has happened when other restaurant concepts have tried to expand, we may find that our concept has limited appeal in new markets or we may experience a decline in the popularity of our concept in the markets in which we operate. Newly opened shops or our future markets and shops may not be successful or our average net sandwich shop sales may not increase at historical rates, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Opening new shops in existing markets may negatively affect sales at our existing shops.

The consumer target area of our shops varies by location, depending on a number of factors, including population density, other local retail and business attractions, area demographics and geography. As a result, the opening of a new shop in or near markets in which we already have shops could adversely affect the sales of those existing shops. Existing shops could also make it more difficult to build our consumer base for a new shop in the same market. Our business strategy does not entail opening new shops that we believe will materially affect sales at our existing shops, but we may selectively open new shops in and around areas of existing shops that are operating at or near capacity to effectively serve our customers. Sales cannibalization between our shops may become significant in the future as we continue to expand our operations and could affect our sales growth, which could, in turn, adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

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We are subject to risks associated with leasing property subject to long-term non-cancelable leases.

We do not own any real property and all of our company-owned shops are located in leased premises. The leases for our shop locations generally have initial terms of ten years and typically provide for two renewal options in five-year increments as well as for rent escalations. Generally, our leases are net leases that require us to pay our share of the costs of real estate taxes, utilities, building operating expenses, insurance and other charges in addition to rent. We generally cannot cancel these leases. Additional sites that we lease are likely to be subject to similar long-term non-cancelable leases. If we close a shop, we nonetheless may be obligated to perform our monetary obligations under the applicable lease, including, among other things, payment of the base rent for the balance of the lease term. In addition, as each of our leases expire, we may fail to negotiate renewals, either on commercially acceptable terms or at all, which could cause us to close shops in desirable locations. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Results of Operations—Fiscal year 2017 (53 Weeks) Compared to Fiscal year 2016 (52 Weeks)—Revenues” in Item 7.

Damage to our reputation or lack of acceptance of our brand in existing or new markets could negatively impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We believe we have built our reputation on the high quality of our food, service and staff, as well as on our unique culture and the ambience in our shops, 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, service or staff, or an adverse change in our culture or ambience, or otherwise believe we have failed to deliver a consistently positive experience.

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 or government or industry findings concerning our shops, restaurants operated by other foodservice providers, or others across the food industry supply chain. The risks associated with such negative publicity cannot be completely eliminated or mitigated and may materially harm our results of operations and result in damage to our brand.

Also, there has been a marked increase in the use of social media platforms, including blogs, social media websites and other forms of Internet-based communications which allow individuals access to a broad audience of consumers and other interested persons. 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 our company may be posted on such platforms at any time. Information posted may be adverse to our interests or may be inaccurate, each of which may harm our performance, prospects or business. The harm may be immediate without affording us an opportunity for redress or correction. Such platforms also could be used for dissemination of trade secret information, compromising valuable company assets. In sum, the dissemination of information online could harm our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations, regardless of the information’s accuracy.

Our marketing programs may not be successful.

We incur costs and expend other resources in our marketing efforts to attract and retain customers. These initiatives may not be successful, resulting in expenses incurred without the benefit of higher revenues. Additionally, some of our competitors have greater financial resources, which enable them to spend significantly more on marketing and advertising than we are able to. Should our competitors increase spending on marketing and advertising or our marketing funds decrease for any reason, or should our advertising and promotions be less effective than our competitors, there could be a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

Our business is subject to seasonal fluctuations.

Historically, customer spending patterns for our established shops are lowest in the first quarter of the year. Our quarterly results have been and will continue to be affected by the timing of new shop openings and their associated pre-opening costs. As a result of these and other factors, our financial results for any quarter may not be indicative of the results that may be achieved for a full fiscal year.

Because many of our shops are concentrated in local or regional areas, we are susceptible to economic and other trends and developments, including adverse weather conditions, in these areas.

Our financial performance is highly dependent on shops located in Illinois, Texas, Michigan, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia, which comprised approximately 65% of our total domestic shops as of December 31, 2017. Shops located in the Chicago metropolitan area comprised approximately 24% of our total domestic shops as of such date. As a result, adverse economic conditions in any of these areas could have a material adverse effect on our overall results of operations. In addition, given our geographic

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concentrations, negative publicity regarding any of our shops in these areas could have a material adverse effect on our business and operations, as could other regional occurrences such as local strikes, terrorist attacks, increases in energy prices, or natural or man-made disasters.

In particular, adverse weather conditions, such as regional winter storms, floods, severe thunderstorms and hurricanes, could negatively impact our results of operations. For example, during the first quarter of 2014, nearly 80% of our shops were located in areas that were negatively impacted by extreme cold temperatures, heavy snowfall, or a combination of both, for a majority of the operating days in that fiscal quarter. Temporary or prolonged shop closures may occur and customer traffic may decline due to the actual or perceived effects of future weather related events.

Legislation and regulations requiring the display and provision of nutritional information for our menu offerings, and new information or attitudes regarding diet and health or adverse opinions about the health effects of consuming our menu offerings, could affect consumer preferences and negatively impact our results of operations.

Government regulation and consumer eating habits may impact our business as a result of changes in attitudes regarding diet and health or new information regarding the health effects of consuming our menu offerings. These changes have resulted in, and may continue to result in, the enactment of laws and regulations that impact the ingredients and nutritional content of our menu offerings, or laws and regulations requiring us to disclose the nutritional content of our food offerings.

For example, a number of states, counties and cities have enacted menu labeling laws requiring multi-unit restaurant operators to disclose certain nutritional information to customers, or have enacted legislation restricting the use of certain types of ingredients in restaurants. Furthermore, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, establishes a uniform, federal requirement for certain restaurants to post certain nutritional information on their menus. Specifically, the PPACA amended the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to require chain restaurants with 20 or more locations operating under the same name and offering substantially the same menus to publish the total number of calories of standard menu items on menus and menu boards, along with a statement that puts this calorie information in the context of a total daily calorie intake. The PPACA also requires covered restaurants to provide to consumers, upon request, a written summary of detailed nutritional information for each standard menu item, and to provide a statement on menus and menu boards about the availability of this information. An unfavorable report on, or reaction to, our menu ingredients, the size of our portions or the nutritional content of our menu items could negatively influence the demand for our offerings.

Compliance with current and future laws and regulations regarding the ingredients and nutritional content of our menu items may be costly and time-consuming. Additionally, if consumer health regulations or consumer eating habits change significantly, we may be required to modify or discontinue certain menu items, and we may experience higher costs associated with the implementation of those changes. Additionally, some government authorities are increasing regulations regarding trans-fats and sodium, which may require us to limit or eliminate trans-fats and sodium from our menu offerings or switch to higher cost ingredients or may hinder our ability to operate in certain markets. If we fail to comply with these laws or regulations, our business could experience a material adverse effect.

We cannot make any assurances regarding our ability to effectively respond to changes in consumer health perceptions or our ability to successfully implement the nutrient content disclosure requirements and to adapt our menu offerings to trends in eating habits. The imposition of menu-labeling laws could have an adverse effect on our results of operations and financial position, as well as the restaurant industry in general.

We are subject to many federal, state and local laws with which compliance is both costly and complex.

The restaurant industry is subject to extensive federal, state and local laws and regulations, including those relating to building and zoning requirements and those relating to the preparation and sale of food. The development and operation of restaurants depend to a significant extent on the selection and acquisition of suitable sites, which are subject to zoning, land use, environmental, traffic and other regulations and requirements. We are also subject to licensing and regulation by state and local authorities relating to health, sanitation, safety and fire standards.

We are subject to federal and state laws governing our relationships with employees (including the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and applicable requirements concerning the minimum wage, overtime, family leave, working conditions, safety standards, immigration status, unemployment tax rates, workers’ compensation rates and state and local payroll taxes) and federal and state laws which prohibit discrimination. As significant numbers of our associates are paid at rates related to the applicable minimum wage, further increases in the minimum wage or other changes in these laws could increase our labor costs. Our ability to respond to minimum wage increases by increasing menu prices will depend on the responses of our competitors and customers.

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There is also a potential for increased regulation of certain food establishments in the United States, where compliance with a HACCP approach may now be required. HACCP refers to a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of potential hazards from production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product. Many states have required restaurants to develop and implement HACCP Systems, and the United States government continues to expand the sectors of the food industry that must adopt and implement HACCP programs. For example, the FSMA, signed into law in January 2011, granted the FDA new authority regarding the safety of the entire food system, including through increased inspections and mandatory food recalls. Although restaurants are specifically exempted from or not directly implicated by some of these new requirements, we anticipate that the new requirements may impact our industry. Additionally, our suppliers may initiate or otherwise be subject to food recalls that may impact the availability of certain products, result in adverse publicity or require us to take actions that could be costly for us or otherwise impact our business.

We are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which, among other things, requires our shops to meet federally mandated requirements for the disabled. The ADA prohibits discrimination in employment and public accommodations on the basis of disability. Under the ADA, we could be required to expend funds to modify our shops to provide service to, or make reasonable accommodations for the employment of, disabled persons. In addition, our employment practices are subject to the requirements of the Immigration and Naturalization Service relating to citizenship and residency. Government regulations could also affect and change the items we procure for resale such as commodities.

In addition, our domestic franchising activities are subject to laws enacted by a number of states, rules and regulations promulgated by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and certain rules and requirements regulating franchising activities in foreign countries. Failure to comply with new or existing franchise laws, rules and regulations in any jurisdiction or to obtain required government approvals could negatively affect our franchise sales and our relationships with our franchisees.

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 and local 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 to expend significant funds to make modifications to our shops if we failed 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.

Failure to obtain and maintain required licenses and permits or to comply with food control regulations could lead to the loss of our food service licenses and, thereby, harm our business.

Restaurants are required under various federal, state and local government regulations to obtain and maintain licenses, permits and approvals to operate their businesses and such regulations are subject to change from time to time. The failure to obtain and maintain these licenses, permits and approvals could adversely affect our operating results. Typically, licenses must be renewed annually and may be revoked, suspended or denied renewal for cause at any time if governmental authorities determine that our conduct violates applicable regulations. Difficulties or failure to maintain or obtain the required licenses and approvals could adversely affect our existing shops and delay or result in our decision to cancel the opening of new shops, which would adversely affect our business.

Shortages or interruptions in the supply or delivery of fresh food products could adversely affect our operating results.

We are dependent on frequent deliveries of fresh food products that meet our specifications. Shortages or interruptions in the supply of fresh food products caused by problems in production or distribution, inclement weather, unanticipated demand or other conditions could adversely affect the availability, quality and cost of ingredients, which would adversely affect our operating results.

We have a limited number of suppliers for our major products and rely on a distribution network with a limited number of distribution partners for the majority of our national distribution program in the U.S. If our suppliers or distributors are unable to fulfill their obligations under their contracts, it could harm our operations.

We have a limited number of suppliers for our major products, such as bread. In 2017, we purchased almost all of our bread from one supplier, Campagna-Turano Bakery, Inc., and more than 98% of our meat products from ten suppliers. In addition, we contract with a distribution network with a limited number of distribution partners located throughout the nation to provide the majority of our food distribution services in the U.S. Through our arrangement, our food supplies are largely distributed through five primary distributors. Although we believe that alternative supply and distribution sources are available, there can be no assurance that we will be able to identify or negotiate with such sources on terms that are commercially reasonable to us. If our suppliers or distributors are unable to fulfill their obligations under their contracts or we are unable to identify alternative sources, we could encounter supply shortages and incur higher costs. See “Business—Sourcing and Supply Chain” in Item 1.

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Information technology system failures or breaches of our network security could interrupt our operations and adversely affect our business.

We rely on our computer systems and network infrastructure across our operations, including point-of-sale processing at our shops. In addition, we are increasingly relying on cloud computing and other technologies that result in third parties holding customer information on our behalf. Our operations depend upon our and our third party vendors’ ability to protect our computer equipment and systems against damage from physical theft, fire, power loss, telecommunications failure or other catastrophic events, as well as from internal and external security breaches, viruses 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, an increasing number of transactions are processed through our mobile application. Disruptions, failures or other performance issues with such customer facing technology systems could impair the benefits such systems provide to our business and negatively impact our relationship with our customers.

Security breaches of confidential customer information in connection with our electronic processing of credit and debit card transactions may adversely affect our business.

The majority of our sales are by credit or debit cards. Other restaurants and retailers have experienced security breaches in which credit and debit card information of their customers has been stolen. We may in the future become subject to lawsuits or other proceedings for purportedly fraudulent transactions arising out of the actual or alleged theft of our customers’ credit or debit card information. In addition, most states have enacted legislation requiring notification of security breaches involving personal information, including credit and debit card information. Any such claim or proceeding, or any adverse publicity resulting from these allegations, may have a material adverse effect on our business.

Changes to estimates related to our property, fixtures and equipment or operating results that are lower than our current estimates at certain shop locations may cause us to incur impairment charges on certain long-lived assets, which may adversely affect our results of operations.

In accordance with accounting guidance as it relates to the impairment of long-lived assets, we make certain estimates and projections with regard to individual shop operations, as well as our overall performance, in connection with our impairment analyses for long-lived assets. When impairment triggers are deemed to exist for any location, the estimated undiscounted future cash flows are compared to its carrying value. If the carrying value exceeds the undiscounted cash flows, an impairment charge equal to the difference between the carrying value and the sum of the discounted cash flows is recorded. The projections of future cash flows used in these analyses require the use of judgment and a number of estimates and projections of future operating results. If actual results differ from our estimates, additional charges for asset impairments may be required in the future. We have experienced significant impairment charges in past years. If future impairment charges are significant, our reported operating results would be adversely affected.

We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property, which, in turn, could harm the value of our brands and adversely affect our business.

Our ability to implement our business plan successfully depends in part on our ability to further build brand recognition using our trademarks, service marks and other proprietary intellectual property, including our name and logos and the unique ambiance of our shops. We have registered or applied to register a number of our trademarks. We cannot assure you that our trademark applications will be approved. Third parties may also oppose our trademark applications, or otherwise challenge our use of the trademarks. In the event that our trademarks are successfully challenged, we could be forced to rebrand our goods and services, which could result in loss of brand recognition, and could require us to devote resources to advertising and marketing new brands. If our efforts to register, maintain and protect our intellectual property are inadequate, or if any third party misappropriates, dilutes or infringes on our intellectual property, the value of our brands may be harmed, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and might prevent our brands from achieving or maintaining market acceptance. We may also face the risk of claims that we have infringed third parties’ intellectual property rights. If third parties claim that we infringe upon their intellectual property rights, our operating profits could be adversely affected. Any claims of intellectual property infringement, even those without merit, could be expensive and time consuming to defend, require us to rebrand our services, if feasible, divert management’s attention and resources or require us to enter into royalty or licensing agreements in order to obtain the right to use a third party’s intellectual property.

Restaurant companies have been the target of class action lawsuits and other proceedings alleging, among other things, violations of federal and state workplace and employment laws. Proceedings of this nature are costly, divert management attention and, if successful, could result in our payment of substantial damages or settlement costs.

Our business is subject to the risk of litigation by employees, consumers, suppliers, stockholders or others through private actions, class actions, administrative proceedings, regulatory actions or other litigation. The outcome of litigation, particularly class

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action and regulatory actions, is difficult to assess or quantify. In recent years, restaurant companies have been subject to lawsuits, including class action lawsuits, alleging violations of federal and state laws regarding workplace and employment matters, discrimination and similar matters. A number of these lawsuits have resulted in the payment of substantial damages by the defendants.

Occasionally, our customers file complaints or lawsuits against us alleging that we are responsible for some illness or injury they suffered at or after a visit to one of our shops, including actions seeking damages resulting from food-borne illness or accidents in our shops. We are also subject to a variety of other claims from third parties arising in the ordinary course of our business, including contract claims. The restaurant industry has also been subject to a growing number of claims that the menus and actions of restaurant chains have led to the obesity of certain of their customers. We may also be subject to lawsuits from our employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or others alleging violations of federal and state laws regarding workplace and employment matters, discrimination and similar matters.

Regardless of whether any claims against us are valid or whether we are liable, claims may be expensive to defend and may divert time and money away from our operations. In addition, they may generate negative publicity, which could reduce customer traffic and sales. Although we maintain what we believe to be adequate levels of insurance, insurance may not be available at all or in sufficient amounts to cover any liabilities with respect to these or other matters. A judgment or other liability in excess of our insurance coverage for any claims or any adverse publicity resulting from claims could adversely affect our business and results of operations.

Our insurance may not provide adequate levels of coverage against claims.

We believe that we 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.

Unionization activities or labor disputes may disrupt our operations and affect our profitability.

Although none of our employees are currently covered under collective bargaining agreements, our employees may elect to be represented by labor unions in the future. If a significant number of our employees were to become unionized and collective bargaining agreement terms were significantly different from our current compensation arrangements, it could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations. In addition, a labor dispute involving some or all of our employees may harm our reputation, disrupt our operations and reduce our revenues, and resolution of disputes may increase our costs.

As an employer, we may be subject to various employment-related claims, such as individual or class actions or government enforcement actions relating to alleged employment discrimination, employee classification and related withholding, wage-hour, labor standards or healthcare and benefit issues. Such actions, if brought against us and successful in whole or in part, may affect our ability to compete or could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We have limited control with respect to the operations of our franchisees which could have a negative impact on our business.

Our franchisees are obligated to operate their shops according to the specific guidelines we set forth. We provide training opportunities to these franchisees to integrate them into our operating strategy. However, since we do not have control over these shops, we cannot give assurance that there will not be differences in product quality, operations, marketing or profitably or that there will be adherence to all of our guidelines at these shops. The failure of these shops to operate effectively could adversely affect our cash flows from those operations or have a negative impact on our reputation or our business.

In addition, franchisees may not have access to the financial or management resources that they need to open the shops contemplated by their agreements with us, or be able to find suitable sites on which to develop them, or they may elect to cease development for other reasons. Franchisees may not be able to negotiate acceptable lease or purchase terms for the sites, obtain the necessary permits and governmental approvals or meet construction schedules. Any of these problems could slow our growth from franchise operations and reduce our franchise revenues. Additionally, financing from banks and other financial institutions may not always be available to franchisees to construct and open new shops. The lack of adequate financing could adversely affect the number and rate of new shop openings by our franchisees and adversely affect our future franchise revenues.

Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock

Our business could be negatively affected as a result of actions of activist shareholders.

Privet Fund LP (“Privet”) is the beneficial owner of approximately 5.1% of our outstanding common stock as of February 7, 2018 (based on Schedule 13D/A filed with the SEC on February 7, 2018 by Privet).  In addition, a group of shareholders affiliated

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with GrizzlyRock Capital LLC (the “GrizzlyRock Group”) is the beneficial owner of approximately 5.3% of our outstanding common stock as of October 20, 2017 (based on Schedule 13D filed with the SEC on October 26, 2017 by the GrizzlyRock Group). Privet has nominated four candidates for election to our board of directors at our 2018 annual meetings of shareholders. The GrizzlyRock Group have also asserted that their intent is to influence the policies of the Company and assert shareholder rights. The actions of Privet and any future actions by the GrizzlyRock Group or another activist shareholder in the future could adversely affect our business because:

 

 

responding to Privet’s nominations and other actions by activist shareholders can be costly and time-consuming, and divert the attention of our management and employees;

 

 

perceived uncertainties as to our future direction may result in the loss of potential business opportunities, and may make it more difficult to attract and retain qualified personnel and business partners; and

 

 

pursuit of an activist shareholder’s agenda may adversely affect our ability to effectively implement our business strategy and create additional value for our shareholders.

Our stock price could be extremely volatile and, as a result, you may not be able to resell your shares at or above the price you paid for them.

Volatility in the market price of our common stock may prevent you from being able to sell your shares at or above the price you paid for your shares. The stock market in general has been highly volatile, and this may be especially true for our common stock given our growth strategy and stage of development. As a result, the market price of our common stock is likely to be similarly volatile. You may experience a decrease, which could be substantial, in the value of your stock, including decreases unrelated to our operating performance or prospects, and could lose part or all of your investment. The price of our common stock could be subject to wide fluctuations in response to a number of factors, including those described elsewhere in this Annual Report and others such as:

 

actual or anticipated fluctuations in our quarterly or annual operating results and the performance of our competitors;

 

publication of research reports by securities analysts about us, our competitors or our industry;

 

our failure or the failure of our competitors to meet analysts’ projections or guidance that we or our competitors may give to the market;

 

additions and departures of key personnel;

 

sales, or anticipated sales, of large blocks of our stock or of shares held by our stockholders, directors or executive officers;

 

strategic decisions by us or our competitors, such as acquisitions, divestitures, spin-offs, joint ventures, strategic investments or changes in business strategy;

 

the passage of legislation or other regulatory developments affecting us or our industry;

 

speculation in the press or investment community, whether or not correct, involving us, our suppliers or our competitors;

 

changes in accounting principles;

 

litigation and governmental investigations;

 

terrorist acts, acts of war or periods of widespread civil unrest;

 

a food-borne illness outbreak;

 

severe weather, natural disasters and other calamities; and

 

changes in general market and economic conditions.

23


As we operate in a single industry, we are especially vulnerable to these factors to the extent that they affect our industry or our products. In the past, securities class action litigation has often been initiated against companies following periods of volatility in their stock price. This type of litigation could result in substantial costs and divert our management’s attention and resources, and could also require us to make substantial payments to satisfy judgments or to settle litigation.

Provisions in our certificate of incorporation and by-laws and Delaware law may discourage, delay or prevent a change of control of our company or changes in our management and, therefore, may depress the trading price of our stock.

Our certificate of incorporation and by-laws include certain provisions that could have the effect of discouraging, delaying or preventing a change of control of our company or changes in our management, including, among other things:

 

restrictions on the ability of our stockholders to fill a vacancy on the board of directors;

 

our ability to issue preferred stock with terms that the board of directors may determine, without stockholder approval, which could be used to significantly dilute the ownership of a hostile acquirer;

 

the inability of our stockholders to call a special meeting of stockholders;

 

our directors may only be removed from the board of directors for cause by the affirmative vote of the holders of at least 66-2/3% of the voting power of outstanding shares of our capital stock entitled to vote generally in the election of directors;

 

the absence of cumulative voting in the election of directors, which may limit the ability of minority stockholders to elect directors;

 

advance notice requirements for stockholder proposals and nominations, which may discourage or deter a potential acquirer from soliciting proxies to elect a particular slate of directors or otherwise attempting to obtain control of us; and

 

our by-laws may only be amended by the affirmative vote of the holders of at least 66-2/3% of the voting power of outstanding shares of our capital stock entitled to vote generally in the election of directors or by our board of directors.

Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law may affect the ability of an “interested stockholder” to engage in certain business combinations, including mergers, consolidations or acquisitions of additional shares, for a period of three years following the time that the stockholder becomes an “interested stockholder.” An “interested stockholder” is defined to include persons owning directly or indirectly 15% or more of the outstanding voting stock of a corporation.

We are an “emerging growth company,” and any decision on our part to comply only with certain reduced reporting and disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies could make our common stock less attractive to investors.

We are an “emerging growth company,” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012, or the JOBS Act. For as long as we continue to be an “emerging growth company,” we may choose to take advantage of exemptions from various reporting requirements applicable to other public companies but not to “emerging growth companies,” including, but not limited to, not being required to have our independent registered public accounting firm audit our internal control over financial reporting under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements and exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. We may choose to take advantage of some but not all of these reduced burdens until we are no longer an “emerging growth company.” We will remain an emerging growth company until the earlier of (1) the last day of the fiscal year (a) following the fifth anniversary of the completion of our initial public offering, (b) in which we have total annual gross revenue of at least $1.0 billion, or (c) in which we are deemed to be a large accelerated filer, which means the market value of our common stock that is held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of the prior June 30th, or (2) the date on which we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt securities during the prior three-year period. We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive if we choose to rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result of any choices to reduce future disclosure, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.

Under the JOBS Act, emerging growth companies can delay adopting new or revised accounting standards until such time as those standards apply to private companies. We have irrevocably elected not to avail ourselves of this exemption from new or revised accounting standards, and, therefore, we will be subject to the same new or revised accounting standards as other public companies that are not emerging growth companies.

24


If securities analysts or industry analysts downgrade our stock, publish negative research or reports, or do not publish reports about our business, our stock price and trading volume could decline.

The trading market for our common stock is influenced by the research and reports that industry or securities analysts publish about us, our business and our industry. If one or more analysts adversely change their recommendation regarding our stock or our competitors’ stock, our stock price would likely decline. If one or more analysts cease coverage of us or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn could cause our stock price or trading volume to decline.

Because we have no plans to pay regular cash dividends on our common stock for the foreseeable future, you may not receive any return on investment unless you sell your common stock for a price greater than that which you paid for it.

We may retain future earnings, if any, for future operations, expansion and debt repayment and have no current plans to pay any cash dividends for the foreseeable future. Any decision to declare and pay dividends in the future will be made at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend on, among other things, our results of operations, financial condition, cash requirements, contractual restrictions and other factors that our board of directors may deem relevant. In addition, our ability to pay dividends may be limited by covenants of any existing and future outstanding indebtedness we or our subsidiaries incur, including our credit facility. As a result, you may not receive any return on an investment in our common stock unless you sell our common stock for a price greater than that which you paid for it.

Our ability to raise capital in the future may be limited, which could make us unable to fund our capital requirements.

Our business and operations may consume resources faster than we anticipate. In the future, we may need to raise additional funds through the issuance of new equity securities, debt or a combination of both. Additional financing may not be available on favorable terms or at all. If adequate funds are not available on acceptable terms, we may be unable to fund our capital requirements. If we issue new debt securities, the debt holders would have rights senior to common stockholders to make claims on our assets, and the terms of any debt could restrict our operations, including our ability to pay dividends on our common stock. If we issue additional equity securities, existing stockholders may experience dilution, and the new equity securities could have rights senior to those of our common stock. Because our decision to issue securities in any future offering will depend on market conditions and other factors beyond our control, we cannot predict or estimate the amount, timing or nature of our future offerings. Thus, our stockholders bear the risk of our future securities offerings reducing the market price of our common stock and diluting their interest.

ITEM 1B.

UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

None.

ITEM 2.

PROPERTIES

We do not own any real property. As of December 31, 2017, we had the following number of company-operated shops located in the following areas:

 

Location

 

 

Number of Shops

 

 

Location

 

 

Number of Shops

 

Illinois

 

 

107

 

 

Colorado

 

 

12

 

Texas

 

 

72

 

 

Indiana

 

 

8

 

Michigan

 

 

32

 

 

Kansas

 

 

6

 

Maryland

 

 

28

 

 

Massachusetts

 

 

6

 

District of Columbia

 

 

24

 

 

Oregon

 

 

6

 

Virginia

 

 

23

 

 

Utah

 

 

5

 

Minnesota

 

 

21

 

 

Pennsylvania

 

 

3

 

Ohio

 

 

18

 

 

New Jersey

 

 

2

 

Wisconsin

 

 

17

 

 

Oklahoma

 

 

2

 

New York

 

 

17

 

 

Connecticut

 

 

1

 

Arizona

 

 

13

 

 

Kentucky

 

 

1

 

Washington

 

 

12

 

 

Missouri

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

 

437

 

 

25


Initial lease terms for our company-operated properties are generally ten years, with the majority of the leases providing for an option to renew for two additional five-year terms. Nearly all of our leases provide for a minimum annual rent, and some of our leases call for additional rent based on sales volume at the particular location over specified minimum levels. Generally, the leases are net leases that require us to pay our share of the costs of real estate taxes, utilities, building operating expenses, insurance and other charges in addition to rent. For additional information regarding our leases, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Contractual Obligations” in Item 7.

As of December 31, 2017, we occupied approximately 32,000 square feet of office space in Chicago, Illinois under an 11-year lease for our corporate headquarters.

ITEM 3.

LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

The Company is subject to legal proceedings, claims and liabilities, such as employment-related claims and slip and fall cases, which arise in the ordinary course of business and are generally covered by insurance. In the opinion of management, the amount of ultimate liability with respect to those actions should not have a material adverse impact on the Company’s financial position or results of operations and cash flows.

In October 2017, plaintiffs filed a purported collective and class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against the Company alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and New York Labor Law ("NYLL"). The plaintiffs allege that the Company violated the FLSA and NYLL by not paying overtime compensation to our assistant managers and violated NYLL by not paying spread-of-hours pay. Potbelly believes the assistant managers were properly classified under state and federal law. The Company intends to vigorously defend this action. This case is at an early stage, and Potbelly is therefore unable to make a reasonable estimate of the probable loss or range of losses, if any, that might arise from this matter.

ITEM 4.

MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

Not Applicable

 

 

26


PART II

 

ITEM 5.

MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

Common Stock Market Prices and Dividends

The following table describes the per share range of high and low sales prices for shares of our common stock for the quarterly periods indicated, as reported by the NASDAQ. Our common stock trades on the NASDAQ under the symbol “PBPB”.

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

 

High

 

 

Low

 

 

High

 

 

Low

 

First Quarter

 

$

13.80

 

 

$

12.50

 

 

$

13.95

 

 

$

10.15

 

Second Quarter

 

 

14.10

 

 

 

10.65

 

 

 

14.87

 

 

 

12.37

 

Third Quarter

 

 

12.70

 

 

 

10.90

 

 

 

13.60

 

 

 

12.11

 

Fourth Quarter

 

 

13.30

 

 

 

11.05

 

 

 

14.40

 

 

 

11.90

 

 

On February 23, 2017, the closing price of our common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market was $12.95 per share.

Holders

As of December 31, 2017, there were 37 stockholders of record of our common stock. This number excludes stockholders whose stock is held in nominee or street name by brokers.

Dividend Policy

The Company currently intends to retain all available funds and any future earnings to fund the development and growth of the business and therefore Potbelly does not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Any future determination to pay dividends will be at the discretion of the Potbelly board of directors, subject to compliance with covenants in future agreements governing our indebtedness, and will depend upon Company results of operations, financial condition, capital requirements and other factors that the board of directors deems relevant. In addition, in certain circumstances, the revolving credit facility restricts Potbelly’s ability to pay dividends. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Credit Facility” in Item 7.

Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer

The following table contains information regarding purchases of Company common stock made by or on behalf of Potbelly Corporation during the 14 weeks ended December 31, 2017:

 

Period

 

Total Number of

Shares

Purchased

 

 

Average Price Paid

per Share (1)

 

 

Total Number of Shares

Purchased as Part of

Publicly Announced

Program (2)

 

 

Maximum Value of

Shares that May Yet be

Purchased Under the

Program (2)

 

September 25, 2017 – October 22, 2017

 

 

100,000

 

 

$

12.24

 

 

 

100,000

 

 

$

17,620,930

 

October 23, 2017 – November 19, 2017

 

 

100,000

 

 

$

11.90

 

 

 

100,000

 

 

$

16,430,908

 

November 20, 2017 – December 31, 2017

 

 

132,600

 

 

$

12.58

 

 

 

132,600

 

 

$

14,762,882

 

Total

 

 

332,600

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

332,600

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1)

Average price paid per share excludes commissions.

(2)

On September 8, 2016, the Company announced that its Board of Directors approved a share repurchase program, authorizing the Company to repurchase up to $30.0 million of Potbelly common stock. The Company’s previous $35.0 million share repurchase program, authorized in September 2015, was completed in July 2016. The current program permits the Company, from time to time, to purchase shares in the open market (including in pre-arranged stock trading plans in accordance with the guidelines specified in Rule 10b5-1 under the Exchange Act) or in privately negotiated transactions. No time limit has been set for the completion of the repurchase program and the program may be suspended or discontinued at any time.

27


Performance Graph

The following graph and accompanying table show the cumulative total return to stockholders of Potbelly Corporation’s common stock relative to the cumulative total returns of the NASDAQ Composite Index, S&P 600 SmallCap Index and S&P 600 Restaurants Index. The graph tracks the performance of a $100 investment in our common stock and in each of the indices (with the reinvestment of dividends) from October 4, 2013 (the date our common stock commenced trading on the NASDAQ) to December 31, 2017. The stock price performance included in this graph is not necessarily indicative of future stock price performance.

 

 

 

ITEM 6.

SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

The following table sets forth Potbelly’s selected consolidated financial and other data as of the dates and for the periods indicated. The Company derived the statements of operations and cash flow data presented below for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2017, December 25, 2016 and December 27, 2015 and the balance sheet data presented below as of December 31, 2017 and December 25, 2016 from the Company’s audited consolidated financial statements included in Part II, Item 8, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The statements of operations and cash flow data for the fiscal years ended December 28, 2014 and December 29, 2013 and the balance sheet data as of December 27, 2015, December 28, 2014 and December 29, 2013 have been derived from the Company’s audited consolidated financial statements not included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The Company’s historical results are not necessarily indicative of Potbelly’s results in any future period.

Operating results are reported on a 52-week fiscal year calendar, with a 53-week year occurring every fifth or sixth year. The Company’s fiscal year ends on the last Sunday of each calendar year. Fiscal year 2017 was a 53-week year and fiscal years 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013 were 52-week years. The first three quarters of our fiscal year consist of 13 weeks, and our fourth quarter consists of 13 weeks for 52-week fiscal years and 14 weeks for 53-week fiscal years.

28


Potbelly’s selected consolidated financial and other data should be read in conjunction with the disclosure set forth under “Risk Factors” in Item 1A, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Item 7 and the Company’s consolidated financial statements and the related notes included in Part II, Item 8, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

 

 

Fiscal Year Ended

 

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 25,

 

 

December 27,

 

 

December 28,

 

 

December 29,

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

Statement of Operations Data:

 

($ in thousands)

 

Total revenues

 

$

428,111

 

 

$

407,131

 

 

$

372,849

 

 

$

326,979

 

 

$

299,712

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expenses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandwich shop operating expenses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of goods sold, excluding depreciation

 

 

113,426

 

 

 

111,026

 

 

 

105,614

 

 

 

93,688

 

 

 

87,380

 

Labor and related expenses

 

 

126,337

 

 

 

117,838

 

 

 

106,628

 

 

 

93,165

 

 

 

83,579

 

Occupancy expenses

 

 

58,562

 

 

 

52,444

 

 

 

46,762

 

 

 

41,389

 

 

 

36,394

 

Other operating expenses

 

 

49,209

 

 

 

43,738

 

 

 

39,869

 

 

 

34,669

 

 

 

30,781

 

General and administrative expenses

 

 

44,618

 

 

 

40,411

 

 

 

37,322

 

 

 

32,420

 

 

 

39,656

 

Depreciation expense

 

 

25,680

 

 

 

22,734

 

 

 

21,476

 

 

 

19,615

 

 

 

17,875

 

Pre-opening costs

 

 

1,441

 

 

 

1,786

 

 

 

2,160

 

 

 

1,634

 

 

 

1,437

 

Impairment and loss on disposal of property and

equipment

 

 

10,761

 

 

 

4,141

 

 

 

3,589

 

 

 

3,128

 

 

 

1,135

 

Total expenses

 

 

430,034

 

 

 

394,118

 

 

 

363,420

 

 

 

319,708

 

 

 

298,237

 

Income (loss) from operations

 

 

(1,923

)

 

 

13,013

 

 

 

9,429

 

 

 

7,271

 

 

 

1,475

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interest expense

 

 

124

 

 

 

134

 

 

 

221

 

 

 

179

 

 

 

387

 

Other expense

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

Income (loss) before income taxes

 

 

(2,047

)

 

 

12,879

 

 

 

9,208

 

 

 

7,092

 

 

 

1,086

 

Income tax expense (benefit) (1)

 

 

4,643

 

 

 

4,443

 

 

 

3,466

 

 

 

2,748

 

 

 

(204

)

Net income (loss)

 

 

(6,690

)

 

 

8,436

 

 

 

5,742

 

 

 

4,344

 

 

 

1,290

 

Net income (loss) attributable to non-controlling

interests (2)

 

 

266

 

 

 

224

 

 

 

114

 

 

 

(14

)

 

 

32

 

Net income (loss) attributable to Potbelly Corporation

 

 

(6,956

)

 

 

8,212

 

 

 

5,628

 

 

 

4,358

 

 

 

1,258

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dividend declared and paid to common and preferred

stockholders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(49,854

)

Accretion of redeemable convertible preferred stock to

maximum redemption value

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(15,097

)

Net income (loss) attributable to common stockholders

 

$

(6,956

)

 

$

8,212

 

 

$

5,628

 

 

$

4,358

 

 

$

(63,693

)

 

29


 

 

Fiscal Year Ended

 

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 25,

 

 

December 27,

 

 

December 28,

 

 

December 29,

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

 

 

($ in thousands, except per share data)

 

Net income (loss) per common share attributable to

common stockholders (3):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

$

(0.28

)

 

$

0.32

 

 

$

0.20

 

 

$

0.15

 

 

$

(6.29

)

Diluted

 

$

(0.28

)

 

$

0.31

 

 

$

0.20

 

 

$

0.14

 

 

$

(6.29

)

Weighted average shares outstanding:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

 

25,045,427

 

 

 

25,623,809

 

 

 

28,002,005

 

 

 

29,209,298

 

 

 

10,132,805

 

Diluted

 

 

25,045,427

 

 

 

26,231,367

 

 

 

28,634,396

 

 

 

30,275,061

 

 

 

10,132,805

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash Flows Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net cash provided by (used in):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating activities

 

 

41,819

 

 

 

45,969

 

 

 

40,320

 

 

 

26,554

 

 

 

29,880

 

Investing activities

 

 

(34,684

)

 

 

(37,820

)

 

 

(36,058

)

 

 

(29,209

)

 

 

(28,098

)

Financing activities

 

 

(4,984

)

 

 

(16,776

)

 

 

(35,261

)

 

 

(3,919

)

 

 

45,202

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selected Other Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total company-operated shops (end of period)

 

 

437

 

 

 

411

 

 

 

372

 

 

 

334

 

 

 

296

 

Change in company-operated comparable store sales

 

 

(2.4

)%

 

 

1.4

%

 

 

4.4

%

 

 

0.1

%

 

 

1.5

%

Operating income (loss) margin (4)

 

 

(0.4

)%

 

 

3.2

%

 

 

2.5

%

 

 

2.2

%

 

 

0.5

%

Shop-level profit margin (5)

 

 

18.2

%

 

 

19.7

%

 

 

19.4

%

 

 

19.2

%

 

 

20.2

%

Capital expenditures

 

 

34,684

 

 

 

36,712

 

 

 

35,725

 

 

 

29,209

 

 

 

28,098

 

Adjusted EBITDA (6)

 

 

41,693

 

 

 

44,145

 

 

 

37,196

 

 

 

33,327

 

 

 

32,058

 

Adjusted EBITDA margin (6)

 

 

9.7

%

 

 

10.8

%

 

 

10.0

%

 

 

10.2

%

 

 

10.7

%

 

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 25,

 

 

December 27,

 

 

December 28,

 

 

December 29,

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

 

 

($ in thousands)

 

Balance Sheet Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents

 

$

25,530

 

 

$

23,379

 

 

$

32,006

 

 

$

63,005

 

 

$

69,579

 

Working capital

 

 

17,851

 

 

 

10,736

 

 

 

24,599

 

 

 

59,334

 

 

 

63,093

 

Total assets

 

 

170,730

 

 

 

175,445

 

 

 

174,507

 

 

 

191,947

 

 

 

186,080

 

Total debt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1,008

 

 

 

1,092

 

Total equity

 

 

117,238

 

 

 

124,236

 

 

 

130,213

 

 

 

156,325

 

 

 

153,273

 

 

(1)

In connection with the Company’s initial analysis of the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the “Tax Act”), Potbelly recorded additional tax expense of $3.8 million for the fiscal year 2017, the period in which the legislation was enacted. See Note 7 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for additional information related to the Tax Act. The fiscal year 2013 included a $0.6 million benefit related to increasing the federal statutory rate to measure our deferred tax assets.

(2)

Non-controlling interests represent non-controlling partners’ share of the assets, liabilities and operations related to five joint venture investments. Potbelly has ownership interests ranging from 51-80% in these consolidated joint ventures.

(3)

Net income (loss) per common share attributable to common stockholders is calculated using the weighted average number of common shares outstanding for the period.

30


(4)

Income from operations as a percentage of total revenues.

(5)

Shop-level profit is not required by, or presented in accordance with, GAAP, and is defined as income (loss) from operations less franchise royalties and fees, general and administrative expenses, depreciation expense, pre-opening costs and impairment and loss on disposal of property and equipment. Shop-level profit is a supplemental measure of operating performance of the Company’s shops and the calculation thereof may not be comparable to that reported by other companies. Shop-level profit margin represents shop-level profit expressed as a percentage of net company-operated sandwich shop sales. Shop-level profit and shop-level profit margin have limitations as analytical tools, and you should not consider them in isolation or as a substitute for analysis of Potbelly’s results as reported under GAAP. Management believes shop-level profit margin is an important tool for investors because it is a widely used metric within the restaurant industry to evaluate restaurant-level productivity, efficiency and performance. Management uses shop-level profit margin as a key metric to evaluate the profitability of incremental sales at the Company’s shops, to evaluate our shop performance across periods and to evaluate our shop financial performance compared with our competitors. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Item 7 for a discussion of shop-level profit margin and other key performance indicators. A reconciliation of shop-level profit to income (loss) from operations and a calculation of shop-level profit margin is provided below:

 

 

 

Fiscal Year Ended

 

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 25,

 

 

December 27,

 

 

December 28,

 

 

December 29,

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

 

 

($ in thousands)

 

Income (loss) from operations

 

$

(1,923

)

 

$

13,013

 

 

$

9,429

 

 

$

7,271

 

 

$

1,475

 

Less: Franchise royalties and fees

 

 

3,179

 

 

 

2,257

 

 

 

1,895

 

 

 

1,515

 

 

 

1,138

 

General and administrative expenses

 

 

44,618

 

 

 

40,411

 

 

 

37,322

 

 

 

32,420

 

 

 

39,656

 

Depreciation expense

 

 

25,680

 

 

 

22,734

 

 

 

21,476

 

 

 

19,615

 

 

 

17,875

 

Pre-opening costs

 

 

1,441

 

 

 

1,786

 

 

 

2,160

 

 

 

1,634

 

 

 

1,437

 

Impairment and loss on disposal of property and

equipment

 

 

10,761

 

 

 

4,141

 

 

 

3,589

 

 

 

3,128

 

 

 

1,135

 

Shop-level profit [Y]

 

$

77,398

 

 

$

79,828

 

 

$

72,081

 

 

$

62,553

 

 

$

60,440

 

Total revenues

 

$

428,111

 

 

$

407,131

 

 

$

372,849

 

 

$

326,979

 

 

$

299,712

 

Less: Franchise royalties and fees

 

 

3,179

 

 

 

2,257

 

 

 

1,895

 

 

 

1,515

 

 

 

1,138

 

Sandwich shop sales, net [X]

 

$

424,932

 

 

$