Burrito chain and recent media punching bag Chipotle is preparing to report its sales results for the fourth quarter of 2015, and — surprise! — they're expected to be the worst in the company's history.
As the Associated Press notes, prior to Chipotle's recent series of unfortunate run-ins with E. coli and norovirus, the company had enjoyed at least 10 straight years of quarterly sales increases. But in January, the company said it anticipates a 14.6 percent drop in same store sales in the fourth quarter, and Chipotle's stock price has fallen more than 30 percent since October, when the first word of E. coli surfaced. Chipotle's official fourth quarter results will be released at 4 p.m. EST today, just ahead of its quarterly earnings call.
Whatever the actual numbers, they're unlikely to come as any sort of shock to investors: Executives have already warned 2016 will be "messy" as the chain attempts to right its ship. But with the force of more than 1,900 locations behind it, Chipotle is making moves to win back its fast-casual throne: Now that the Centers for Disease Control has officially declared Chipotle's E. coli disaster to be over — causing the company's stock price to jump back up by 5.6 percent since said announcement — the chain is launching a full-fledged campaign to lure customers back.
Beyond the stricter food safety guidelines it's already implemented in its restaurants, Chipotle's chief creative and development officer Mark Crumpacker has said the effort to mend the company's reputation will involve everything from radio to print, online, and direct mail avenues. (Oh, and free food.)