Others say its menu is too narrow. Still others say outside of doughnuts, Dunkin's menu is mediocre at best.
To which I say: yes, they're all right, but in truth, nothing has really changed at Dunkin' Donuts. Not even the public's attitude toward doughnuts. Even if they had blips of renewed interest during the Krispy-Kreme (KKD) fad and surrounding the Dunkin' IPO, they've been losing market share for 15 years.
What's changed is that, by going public, Dunkin' couldn't help but put itself in the position it's in now. It has forced itself to convince investors it can grow faster than it realistically can or should.
Let's not forget: the story of Dunkin' -- or the story Dunkin' uses to sell itself to Wall Street -- is the "white space" of the country it doesn't have stores in, which is pretty much everything west of the Mississippi. This was the story behind its 2011 IPO, and remains a big part of the story today.
Back in 2012, in a critical piece I wrote, a spokeswoman stressed:
"We have a strong, multi-year domestic development pipeline for Dunkin' Donuts. We opened 206 net new Dunkin' restaurants in the U.S. in 2010. We opened 243 net new Dunkin' restaurants domestically in 2011 and have said we intend to open 260 to 280 net new Dunkin' locations domestically in 2012. Globally, we have said we expect to open 550 to 650 net new Dunkin' and Baskin restaurants in 2012."
As we all know, or should know, any retail or restaurant growth story worth its salt (or sugar) is fueled by new store growth. On Wall Street, the mantra (in theory, at least) is: as long as there are new stores, the growth will follow.
Trouble is (in practice), that forces retailers and restaurants to put up stores for the sake of putting up stores, to meet Wall Street expectations -- not necessarily because they're the best locations or they're being put up at a pace that can generate sustainable growth.