Consolidated develops PR unit to boost image, stock

INDIANAPOLIS: Consolidated Products, a holding company for the Steak n Shake restaurant chain, is creating a PR department to help get the company’s story out to Wall Street and the business press.

INDIANAPOLIS: Consolidated Products, a holding company for the Steak n Shake restaurant chain, is creating a PR department to help get the company’s story out to Wall Street and the business press.

INDIANAPOLIS: Consolidated Products, a holding company for the

Steak n Shake restaurant chain, is creating a PR department to help get

the company’s story out to Wall Street and the business press.



Victor Yeandel, who joined the dollars 38 million company five years ago

as VP of marketing, will become director of the new PR operation while

retaining his marketing post. The size of the new department and whether

it will work in conjunction with an outside PR firm, however, has yet to

be determined.



’We’re going to walk before we run,’ said chairman E.W. Kelley.



Kelley, who owns 30% of the company, has long worried about the

company’s image. ’I’ve had a very major feeling we were not presenting

ourselves well,’ he confessed. He attributes this to the way the

company’s marketing department had been organized: PR was not any one

individual’s responsibility, which often left Kelley serving as de facto

company spokesman.



A major communications problem for Consolidated has been telling

financial analysts exactly what kind of a company it is. Analysts have

tended to lump it in with fast-food companies, but Consolidated views

itself as a step above McDonald’s or Burger King.



’We’re a limited service, casual restaurant,’ Kelley said. ’For a long

time, we have had trouble explaining why Steak n Shake wasn’t a

fast-food, drive-through place.’



Consolidated’s stock, which trades on the NYSE, took a beating last year

as investors turned away from small-cap issues. Common shares, which

traded as high as dollars 18.7 per share last April, have since fallen

to the dollars 9-per-share range. Believing the company is undervalued,

Consolidated has been buying back shares this year.



Consolidated operates 332 Steak n Shake restaurants, including 51

franchised and 11 specialty restaurants (primarily Colorado

Steakhouses), in the Midwest and South. Kelley has charted an aggressive

growth course, planning to add 300 stores over the next five years. The

chain boasts an almost cult-like following in Central Illinois, where it

was founded.



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