Salad chain Sweetgreen files to go public, hopes to double footprint within 5 years

A Sweetgreen location in Bethesda, Maryland.

Jeffrey MacMillan | Getty Images

Salad chain Sweetgreen on Monday filed to go public on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “SG,” aiming to become the latest restaurant company to hit the public markets this year.

The company’s losses widened and sales shrank as the pandemic battered its business last year. In the fiscal year ended Dec. 27, Sweetgreen reported a net loss of $141.2 million on revenue of $220.6 million, according to its prospectus. The chain’s same-store sales shrank 26% during that time after climbing 15% in the prior fiscal year.

The chain has bounced back this year. Same-store sales have risen 21%, as of Sept. 26. Its losses narrowed to $86.9 million from a loss of $100.2 million in the year-ago period.

Sweetgreen operates 140 restaurants across 13 states and Washington. In the prospectus, Sweetgreen said it plans to double its footprint over the next three to five years. More than two-thirds of its revenue comes from digital sales. The average unit volume for a location is $2.5 million, as of Sept. 26.

Founded in 2006, Sweetgreen has found a loyal customer base with its menu of customizable salads and warm bowls that appeal to consumers looking for healthy, convenient options. The company has also leaned into restaurant technology. In August, it acquired Spyce, a Boston restaurant company that made a name for itself with robotic restaurant tech. A few months prior, Sweetgreen shared that it had confidentially filed to go public.

The chain hasn’t avoided controversy. In September, CEO and co-founder Jonathan Neman penned a LinkedIn post that connected Covid-19 deaths to obesity, drawing backlash on social media. The post was deleted, and Neman apologized for the comments.

A string of other restaurant chains have made their public market debuts this year with mixed results. Shares of coffee chain Dutch Bros have soared 82% since its inital public offering in September. First Watch Restaurant Group’s stock has fallen 2% since its debut earlier this month.

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