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Long John Silver’s to promote Alaska cod during lent

INTERNATIONAL Feb. 4, 2016

Long John Silver's is focusing on promoting Alaskan cod products during Lent, the seafood chain's busiest season.

"Lent is, for us, the biggest selling season of the year...it's like the Macy's Thanksgiving parade, there's a lot of preparation work that goes into making sure that [it] goes well for us," said Marilyn Nicholson, vice president of media and promotions at Long John Silver's.

On Ash Wednesday, which falls on Feb. 10 this year and marks the start of Lent, sales are expected to increase by 75%.

The company said it expects to sell nearly 22m pieces of fish during Lent which is "enough to feed every person in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and Phoenix", the company said in an email to Undercurrent News.

According to an email sent by the company, there are nearly 69.5 million registered Catholics, who traditionally do not eat meat on Fridays, in the US.

This year, the company decided to promote wild-caught Alaskan cod, one of its flagship products, by setting a $5.99 promotion.

"Part of the preparation process is that we look ahead and we listen to what [our customers] say, so this year developing a promotion around our Alaska cod was important to out customer, so we're launching that as our offer for the Lenten season," said Nicholson.

The promotion comes at a time when cod prices have been softening and are expected to continue doing so.

"Part of getting ready for Lent...is working with our key suppliers and ur supply chain partners to make sure that when we launch a promotion we make sure we can back it up with good prices for our franchisees...and we have plenty of product to sell."

Earlier this month, Undercurrent News reported that cod sales were slowing down both in Japan -- where warmer-than-average temperatures were stifling demand -- and Europe due to the relatively weak euro to the dollar.

One source said that the price for medium-sized, long-line-caught Pacific cod was $3,550 per metric ton, and another said the price was about $3,600/t, a roughly $200/lb decrease since last year.

Several industry executives told Undercurrent that they expected prices to continue decreasing in the coming months.

Sources also said that given the strong dollar and difficult Japanese market, they expect cod companies to try to sell more of their product domestically.

Buying back franchises

Since the end of 2015, Long John Silver's has bought back several previously-franchised restaurants, marking the first time it has run any restaurants since 2007.

The company, which has so far purchased 44 franchises in five different states, out of the more than 1,100 restaurants in the country, began buying them in the fourth quarter of 2015.

“This is our first time as a company since 2007 that we are experiencing lent as a franchisee would experience it. And we’re very excited about that because…we want to make sure we’re walking the same path our franchisees are so that we understand the complexities of the business…it give us a lot of credibility with them,” Nicholson said.

The company was unable to say if it planned to make more franchise purchases in 2016.

'Fish you were here'

The company will also launch its "Fish You Were Here" sweepstakes on Feb. 8 and it will continue through the end of Lent.

During the sweepstakes, customers are encouraged to take a selfie at one of the restaurants or with a Long John Silver's product and upload it to LJselfie.com, which will enter them in a contest to win one of three cruises: a whale watching cruise, a "Finding Nemo" Caribbean Cruise or an Alaskan cruise.

Read the article at undercurrentnews.com