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Wendy's To Target Younger Generation

Wendy's International Inc. said Monday that it will focus more attention on younger consumers as it tries to turn around the sales trend at its hamburger restaurants where sales at stores open at least a year declined in 2005 for the first time in 18 years.

The company will start selling breakfast food in 2007 after tests this year, plans to introduce new salads and deli sandwiches and test double-melt cheeseburgers, 99-cent chicken sandwiches and a vanilla Frosty, instead of the traditional chocolate, executives told analysts at a meeting in New York. The company also plans to cut labor and supply costs at restaurants.

"While our customers desire great-tasting food, prepared fast and at a good value, each divergent group wants something very different from us," chief marketing officer Ian Rowden said of the need to focus on the 16- to 28-year-olds. "Although we are meeting many of the needs, we have learned we have an opportunity within an important growth engine in our industry.'"

The partial stock offering of its Tim Hortons chain remains set for March with the rest of the coffee-and-doughnut chain to be spun off to shareholders in nine to 18 months, the company said.

Sales at Wendy's locations open at least one year, a key indicator of a retailer's strength, fell 3.7 percent in 2005. The company blamed part of the decline on a hoax by a woman who said she found part of a finger in a bowl of chili, a claim that took several weeks to discredit.

Wendy's shares fell 31 cents to $57.86 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Its shares have traded in a 52-week range of $36.73 to $59.94.

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