Aug. 10 (UPI) -- The parent company of Applebee's and IHOP announced Thursday it intends to close up to 160 locations of the restaurants amid slumping sales.
DineEquity said it will close 105 to 135 Applebee's restaurants, up from the 40 to 60 it initially planned to shutter. Another 20 to 25 IHOP restaurants will close, up from 18.
"We'll be aggressive with restaurant closures this year," Applebee's brand president, John Cywinski told investors Thursday. "These restaurants need to close and perhaps should have closed long ago."
Meanwhile, the company plans to open 125 locations of the two restaurants globally.
Cywinski said the moves are part of a rebranding strategy as diners shift to fast-service restaurants that promise healthier, fresher food like Panera Bread and Chipotle.
"We are investing in the empowerment of our brands by improving overall franchisee financial health, closing underperforming restaurants and enhancing the supply chain," said interim CEO Richard Dahl.