BurgerFuel Worldwide looks to Indiana for first US store

Results in Australia were described as "mixed". With special feature audio.

BurgerFuel Worldwide [NZAX: BFW], the burger chain franchisor is looking to the city of Indianapolis in Indiana as the site of its first potential store in the United States.

The company is going ahead with expansion in North America, despite the ending of its deal with Subway franchisor, Franchise Brands. That deal would have seen the American operator take up to a 50 percent stake in the business, but Subway co-founder Fred de Luca died last year, leaving the agreement in limbo.

Chief executive Josef Roberts told investors at today's annual meeting that the passing of de Luca was a "tremendously sad occasion for me, on both a personal and business level. The vision for the BurgerFuel and Franchise Brands partnership was something Fred and I created together, so losing Fred, and the passion he had for the relationship was devastating."

Roberts added that BurgerFuel was now looking to launch its first US store in the city of Indianapolis in Indiana. Founder Chris Mason has moved to the city.

Away from America, the company's Iraqi franchisees re-opened its store in the capital, Baghdad, after it was closed in 2014 due to unrest. A Kuwait store closed, due to high retail rents and economic volatility due to the fall in the price of oil. There are nine stores in Saudi Arabia, 14 in the United Arab Emirates and three in Egypt.

Results in Australia were described as "mixed" with the company concerned by the "high operating costs and length of time it could take to establish the brand to a profitable level." Chief operating officer Tyrone Foley told investors that they had experienced success in some areas, and will review the business at the end of the 2017 financial year.

Twelve new restaurants were opened in the last financial year, with five opening in the year so far. The total number of global stores was 78.

The NZAX-listed shares increased 0.6 percent to $1.61.


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