BurgerFuel expanding in Middle East
by Simon Lord, last updated on 29th March 2012
March 2012 - BurgerFuel Worldwide’s first new store for 2012 has opened in Iraq, with another opening in the World Trade Centre in Dubai and master licences now signed up for Qatar, Egypt and Libya.
The Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region is a major target market for BurgerFuel, which sees the region as hungry for a good and, significantly, non-American burger brand.
In January, a new store opened in Sulaymaniyah in Northern Iraq, the Kurdish-speaking area known as Iraqi Kurdistan. Northern Iraq itself has a population of over five million people. Chris Mason, BurgerFuel CEO of International Markets, said, ‘This store has opened very quickly since signing the Master Licence Agreement with the Iraqi consortium that also own Pepsi Iraq. Getting new territories up and running fast is a major focus for BurgerFuel this year and we have already nailed our first target of getting Iraq open in January.’
The New Zealand company exports 100% pure New Zealand grass fed beef to all its Middle Eastern stores and is becoming a recognised brand in the MENA region (see our December 2010 story on Kiwis Going Global). Existing sites in the region include the famous Dubai Mall, Jumeirah Beach Residence and Mirdif City Centre in the UAE, as well as high profile malls in Dharan, Khobar and Dammam in Saudi Arabia. BurgerFuel will also open in Egypt later this year.
Josef Roberts, BurgerFuel CEO, commented, ‘We are heading into a very busy year in terms of the company’s development. The opening of our first store in Iraq is a big credit to the BurgerFuel international division. Our focus for 2012 is on opening international territories and expanding the already substantial New Zealand system.’
In February, BurgerFuel opened a new outlet at Monday 20th February, 2012 the Dubai World Trade Centre which is the host venue for Gulfood – the world’s largest annual trade exhibition for the food and hospitality industry, which attracts 65,000 visitors from over 140 countries: ‘Opening on the biggest stage in the world’s biggest stage,’ as Chris Mason put it. The same month, it announced that it had signed a master licence agreement with the Al Siddiqi Group to roll out Burger Fuel in Qatar. Qatar has the world’s highest GDP per capita and will be the first Aran nation to host the FIFA soccer World Cup in 2022.
BurgerFuel has also partnered with the Sadeen General Trading Co, based in Libya, to open outlets there. ‘We saw Libya as one of the leading countries to enter into in the North of Africa,’ said Chris Mason. ‘Democracy is flourishing right now so this is a sought after market to enter and to take first mover advantage in. Our partner has opened the first Il Caffe di Roma which is achieving amazing sales figures and we see BurgerFuel being just as successful.’
BurgerFuel Worldwide CEO, Josef Roberts said ‘We’re interested in both established and emerging markets, especially those that are re-inventing themselves, creating new democracies and progressing. We want to be there from the beginning. We see big opportunities for BurgerFuel to establish now and grow over the years to come. People in these countries like our non-American, New Zealand DNA – they want BurgerFuel.’
However, the company’s style of communication has caused comment. Its original press release titled ‘BurgerFuel invades Iraq’ was felt by some to be tasteless – as one franchisor experienced in the region commented, ‘Most families in Iraq have lost or have friends who have lost at least one family member in the conflicts.’ A more recent press release was headed ‘Libya celebrates freedom, liberty and BurgerFuel’ – a reference to last year’s Arab Spring which saw the death of thousands of demonstrators in Libya and the deposing and killing of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
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