As it prepares to celebrate its 22nd birthday, the listed corporate franchisor foresees a sunny future for the three – soon to be four - multi-site branded food retail chains it manages in New Zealand.
Restaurant Brands is the company behind much of New Zealand’s fast food landscape. At the end of 2018, it had 314 stores across New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii. Of these, 171 are Kiwi: 94 KFC New Zealand, 36 Pizza Hut New Zealand, and 19 Carl's Jr stores. It sold its Starbucks business assets to Tahua Capital in September 2018.
The company was formed in 1997 to acquire the New Zealand operations of PepsiCo-owned KFC and Pizza Hut, which amounted to 122 stores. Its creation meant KFC and Pizza Hut could access support operations at a central support centre in Auckland rather than being primarily supported from Australia.
Major changes to the Restaurant Brands stable since its creation and listing on the New Zealand Stock Exchange include the conversion of the Pizza Hut brand out of its red-roofed buildings, away from a dine-in offering, and into delivery and takeaway. This was achieved in 2000 via acquiring and rebranding the Eagle Boys chain.
It’s been officially an international company since April 2016, when it purchased 42 KFC stores in New South Wales, and dual listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in September 2017.
The company announced in December that during the next five years, Restaurant Brands will roll out one of the world’s most popular fast food chains in New Zealand: Taco Bell. The US-based chain serves Tex-Mex-style items such as tacos and nachos.
Restaurant Brands already operates 36 Taco Bell stores in Hawaii and Guam, which it purchased in March 2017.
If Restaurant Brands’ speed regarding the last international brand is anything to go by, Kiwis may see Taco Bells ringing across the land sooner rather than later. Restaurant Brands acquired the New Zealand franchise for burger brand Carl’s Jr in 2011 and began rolling out stores the following year.
The company has lately adopted an aggressive growth strategy which has seen the size of the business nearly double in 24 months. Chief executive Russel Creedy sees more store growth opportunities for KFC in New Zealand, particularly the new compact CBD store designs, and for Pizza Hut, he says it’s focused on moving to a master franchisee model by creating many more independent Pizza Hut operators.
Since December 2018, the company’s shareholders have been considering a partial takeover offer by Global Valar, a subsidiary of Mexican private equity firm Finaccess.
This story originally appeared in NZ Retail issue 760 February/March 2019