After set­tling into the Aus­tralian mar­ket, Carl’s Jr is ready to spur growth with the goal of reach­ing 300 restau­rants.

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Carl’s Jr is ready to spur growth across the Aus­tralian mar­ket.

Carl’s Jr, the US burger brand that slipped into the Aus­tralian mar­ket a cou­ple of years ago, has grand plans for growth, with 11 stores lined up over the next 12 months as part of its goal to reach 300 restau­rants na­tion­wide.

Global CEO Ja­son Marker says he thinks the brand fits with the Aus­tralian psy­che. “It’s a bit dis­rup­tive, ir­rev­er­ent, im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore. I think that kind of at­ti­tude and tone res­onates in Aus­tralia.”

So how is the busi­ness go­ing to achieve its growth tar­gets in a crowded fast-food mar­ket­place?

Marker, vis­it­ing Aus­tralian restau­rants in the burger chain along­side in­ter­na­tional direc­tor Ned Ly­erly, spoke to In­side Fran­chise Busi­ness about the plans for ex­pan­sion. Carl’s Jr now num­bers 4000 restau­rants glob­ally in a burger mar­ket­place worth US$20 bil­lion.

“We’ve tripled our restau­rant count in 10 years and we’re ex­pect­ing 1000 in the next five years. Aus­tralia is a key mar­ket for us,” he says. A cor­po­rate of­fice will be opened here this year with about 10 staff.

“Aus­tralians are re­ally dis­cern­ing about food qual­ity. They eat a lot of

QSR but try to op­ti­mise it. We def­i­nitely have a more pre­mium of­fer, al­ways made to or­der, hand made, crafted. It is a Cal­i­for­nian brand, and the beach cul­ture im­agery around it res­onates.”


Long known for its pro­mo­tional ma­te­rial fea­tur­ing women in biki­nis, the com­pany ditched the sex­ist im­ager y last year. It is now at­tract­ing the at­ten­tion of pop-cul­ture icons such as Snoop Dogg, who t weeted a v ideo of a d rive-through visit to C arl’s Jr with best mate Matthew McConaughey. With his Texan drawl, McConaughey voiced the lat­est ad cam­paign for the Western Ba­con Cheese­burger.

So far the brand has just five out­lets in Aus­tralia, but three of these have been the big­gest in­ter­na­tional open­ings for the chain within their first month of trad­ing.

“We’re ex­pect­ing to build 300 in the next 10 to 15 years across Aus­tralia,” re­veals Marker.

New Zealand al­ready has 18 Carl’s Jr out­lets.

Launch­ing the brand on the New South Wales’ Cen­tral Coast al­lowed the busi­ness to put to­gether strong foun­da­tions be­fore ex­tend­ing its foot­print, Marker says. “It’s re­ally im­por­tant for us to do this well. It’s not about growing rapidly at all costs, it’s about the right peo­ple, the right lo­ca­tions.”


Ly­erly says the fo­cus is on grade-A sites in South Aus­tralia, Queens­land, New South Wales and, later, Vic­to­ria. Fran­chisees have sev­eral pro­to­types they can con­sider, from drive-throughs to 280sqm stores or a 60sqm food-court out­let.

“We are look­ing for fran­chisees in the greater Syd­ney area,” he says. “We’re very de­lib­er­ate in choos­ing fran­chisees. We look for fran­chisees that bring a lot of re­tail and restau­rant ex­pe­ri­ence, and an abil­ity to ac­quire real es­tate. The sales lev­els have gen­er­ated fran­chisee in­ter­est.”

Marker says the busi­ness is ex­tremely fo­cused on restau­rant eco­nom­ics.

“I’m clear, when our fran­chisees are do­ing well and mak­ing money, that’s how we make money. We have eq­uity restau­rants but we own to learn. We’re a fran­chise. When a fran­chisee is not mak­ing money, it’s our fo­cus.

“We ap­prove site se­lec­tions and pro­ce­du­ral things they do. We have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence in mak­ing sure they don’t trip up. We take our model and give peo­ple the head start. There’s ab­so­lutely no ad­van­tage ever to have a fran­chisee fail – we would not find fu­ture fran­chisees.


“It’s about part­ner­ship and peo­ple ca­pa­bil­ity, right peo­ple, fan­tas­tic pro­cesses and sys­tems, and brand iden­tity. You must stand for some­thing; in a busy cat­e­gory you can’t be‘ me too’. You have to stand for some­thing com­pelling and of­ten dif­fer­ent. You don’t have to ap­peal to ev­ery­one.”

Marker said “The re­al­ity is Aus­tralia is a com­pet­i­tive land­scape. In the food courts, QSR en­vi­ron­ment, you’ve got to be re­ally good.

“The num­ber one thing is fan­tas­tic prod­uct that has to be de­liv­ered to the cus­tomer con­sis­tent with how the cus­tomer wants to­day.

“We have the best burg­ers in QSR, the best as­sets, a s er vice sys­tem that’s more hos­pitable than other QSR.

We’re fo­cused on made fresh to or­der, ta­ble ser­vice, more touch points for cus­tomers. Our restau­rant as­sets are new and fresh, more ur­ban in­dus­trial, wood, a con­tem­po­rary en­vi­ron­ment.”

Marker says there will be cus­tomi­sa­tion to the menu to suit the lo­cal mar­ket. “Our icons work ev­ery­where and are tried and proven, but there will be an Aus­tralian flair to the brand,” he says. “We use An­gus beef all over the world, but here it’s Aus­tralian An­gus.”

You must stand for some­thing; in a busy cat­e­gory you can’t be ‘me too’.

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