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$1B Channel Pre-Virus;
After It, Grows Delivery

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) had already been bolstering its more than $1 billion digital channel pre-coronavirus. Stay-at-home orders and social distancing only accelerated demand.

The Newport Beach-based restaurant operator has pulled several levers since the outbreak, from free delivery that began March 15, complementing its online orders, to in-store pickups at designated shelving areas. An Uber Eats pact is taking its third-party delivery efforts national.

Is it enough?

The restaurant operator reports first-quarter results April 21. Chipotle’s stock has fallen about 30% since the market meltdown began in mid-February to an $18 billion market cap.

Corporate employees are working remotely pending clarity on when California’s stay-at-home order will lift. Work requirement eligibility for Chipotle’s debt-free degree and tuition reimbursement programs are waived for the current semester. The company boosted hourly pay 10% for work between March 16 and April 12.

Chief Executive and Chairman Brian Niccol told Chipotle customers the wage increase is “one of the ways we’re expressing our appreciation for those who are willing and able to continue working during this time.”

Excess food at the end of each night is donated to local food banks and charities.

— Kari Hamanaka

Boot Barn Growth Halted By Virus; Markets Await

Western wear retailer Boot Barn Holdings Inc. (NYSE: BOOT) has been on a tear the last several years, including online but particularly in brick-and-motor stores—buying regional retailers and adding organically to door count as well.

The company pre-coronavirus expected to add 25 stores this fiscal year ended March 28, on both tracks, with comparable sales growth of 7% and net income in a range of $53.1 million to $53.5 million.

Boot Barn shuttered its 41 California stores under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March stay-at-home order and remain closed. Stores still open—its portfolio totals more than 250 stores in 33 states—are seeing frequent cleaning and sanitation, paid leave for associates affected by COVID-19 and daily management meetings to monitor a fast-changing situation.

Markets now await the Irvine-based retailer’s fourth-quarter and full-year results. Company shares declined about 70% since mid-February to a market cap of $360 million.

Boot Barn declined to comment last week, citing its recently ended fiscal year and subsequent quiet period.

— Kari Hamanaka

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