By Charlie Lyon
New Zealand fast food chain eyeing new franchise deals in lucrative region
Burger Fuel, the New Zealand fast food chain, is eyeing new franchise opportunities in the Middle East following lucrative half year sales to Sept 30, 2011,
Sales increased by 47.29% to US$2m in the region compared to the year-earlier period, generated by its three Dubai outlets and a further three in Saudi Arabia.
Now co-CEO Chris Mason has announced further development plans that see Burger Fuel concentrating efforts in the region, rather than in New Zealand or Australia.
“Next year is going to be a big year for us – we’re really gathering momentum. We have three more stores in Saudi planned, and six stores in Dubai already signed off and under construction,” he told Hotelier Middle East. “We have two in Abu Dhabi, and one in Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is due to open mid-January.”
The Iraq outlet has suffered a number of teething problems, Mason said. The country is in a process of transition that will see all US troops exit by the year-end under a plan to hand security control back to the Iraq government.
“It’s been a bit of a challenge opening in Iraq,” he said. “Getting the New Zealand produce there has been tough because of the lack of government control. There are road blocks and we’ve had to think creatively at times. However, we’re in and we’re hiring locals.”
The company hopes to capitalise on its first-mover advantage following is scheduled January launch, he added.
“We were approached by Iraqis who knew us from New Zealand, and they kept coming back and wanted to be the first on the list if we decided to do it, so we decided to give it a shot.
The restaurant chain has firm plans to open in Egypt and is eyeing a move into Libya, where it had signed a franchise deal ahead of the widespread civil unrest that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.
“We’ve also sold a licence to Egypt and we will open in Cairo in the second quarter of 2012. We also have one outlet on the cards in Libya. We sold the right before the trouble kicked off, and I predict it will take about 12 months for the country to work itself out,” Mason said.
“We are using Dubai as the international hub and all our territories are within a 2 to 3-hour flight from here. We are hoping to create about 10 stores in each country within that flight radius.”
I have joined the Burgerfuel team 3 days ago in Iraq, Sulaymaniyah... and I hope it would be successful in its mission.