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Waitr posts net operating losses, increased long-term debt for 2019

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Posted at 12:56 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 13:56:27-04

Waitr, the Lafayette-based food delivery start-up, continued to lose money and increase debt during 2019, a report released today.

The company's most recent CEO, Carl Grimstad, said the company "faced many challenges this past year."

That's a given, since the company's report indicates a $291 million net operating loss for 2019, compared to a $34 million loss for 2018. The company's stock was worth about 50 cents per share Monday afternoon. That's compared to $12 per share on March 18, 2019. The company reports $130.9 million in long-term debt, and $3.6 million in short-term debt at the end of the calendar year. That's compared to about $80 million in long-term debt at the end of 2018.

A major change in the company's fiscal picture was the 2019 acquisition of Bite Squad, the report states.

To read the whole report, click here.

Waitr has been in the news over the past year, with reports of layoffs and other company upheaval. Most recently, they announced the decision to move all drivers from employees to independent contractor status. The change was billed as a positive one for drivers, but it's more likely that the move is another in attempts to salvage profitability for the struggling company.

Waitr has had three rounds of layoffs since last summer. Late last month, the company announced it had scrapped plans to move positions to Mexico and instead would "refocus" in Lafayette.

At this third quarter report in September 2019, the company reported a net loss of $220.1 million for that quarter. The company's stock reached a high value of $14.50 in March 2019 and tanked in November at 24 cents per share.

Back in June, the company laid off workers in Lafayette and Lake Charles - many of whom had been with the company since it started and helped build it from a start-up to a business attractive enough for a multi-million dollar buyout - just months after receiving a state tax credit for creating jobs. More rounds of lay-offs followed in the fall.

Days after the first round of lay-offs, the company announced a rate structure that upset restaurants and resulted in organized boycotts in several cities. That change, coupled with the layoffs, led several restaurants to consider severing their connection with Waitr.

In August, the founder of the company was removed as CEO and left as Chairman of the Board. His retention of the position of CEO and as Chair were part of the sale announced in May 2018. At that time, an acquisition company bought Waitr for $50 million cash for Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta, with the remainder of the $308 million sale price being paid in Waitr stock. By January, the CEO who are replaced him also had resigned.

Grimstad, the current CEO, addressed some of these issues in his statement, calling them "increased competition in some markets and encountered various management and personnel changes."

"Unfortunately, these distractions resulted in a lack of focus on our customers and operations. Over the past few months, this has changed. We are positioning Waitr for sustainable, long-term growth and improving service quality to our restaurant partners, our diners and drivers. We have made tremendous progress on these fronts so far in 2020, and I expect these initiatives will result in the Company achieving positive cash flow, beginning in the first quarter of 2020," Grimstad says.