Bloomberg Interviews Arko CEO

Arie Kotler explored the economic slowdown with the outlet.

June 21, 2024

Signs of an economic slowdown aren’t hard to spot. As shared during the NACS State of the Industry Summit, credit card debt is up, more people are looking for jobs and consumers are trading down—choosing lower priced beer, dining out for breakfast instead of lunch or avoiding costly extras (hold the guacamole).

["NRF: Economy ‘Lost Some Spring in Its Step’ in Q1”]

Arie Kotler, CEO of Arko, spoke with Bloomberg about the slowdown from his company’s perspective. “We operate in ‘Real America,’ as we call it,” Kotler told Bloomberg. “We are in a lot of small towns and a lot of areas that have medium and low income and stores next to the border.”

“Given that I am in the business for 20 years, I can just tell and I can see,” he said. “People are moving to more valuable items and just not spending the money they did in the past.”

Arko debuted a $4.99 whole pizza in January, available frozen for take-and-bake or hot. At the time, Kotler said, “We strongly believe this pie will resonate with consumers who are seeking a delicious, crispy and cheesy whole pizza, at an inflation-busting $4.99. The relevancy, quality and value of this pizza marks a new milestone as we continue our food journey.” In May, Arko announced it would offer Nathan’s Famous hot dogs at more than 450 locations.

Kotler also told Bloomberg that the labor shortage is still an issue—the company has about 1,000 open positions out of almost 14,000 in its workforce—but stores are finding it easier to both hire and retain workers. “We see a nice improvement in positions relative to last year,” he said.

Read more: In May, McDonald’s announced it was “laser-focused on affordability and will emphasize value deals.”