BurgerFuel expands despite Egyptian unrest

Customers being welcomed into BurgerFuel's new Cairo store - its first in Egypt.
Customers being welcomed into BurgerFuel's new Cairo store - its first in Egypt.
BurgerFuel chief executive Josef Roberts says political unrest in Egypt is unlikely to have an impact on the company's fledgling operations in the North African nation.

The Auckland-based gourmet burger brand opened its first store in the country - in Maadi, an upmarket Cairo suburb - at the weekend.

It is a new front in the company's Middle East expansion that has seen 20 stores established across the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt since 2010.

Two more stores will soon open in Cairo and the New Zealand firm's Egyptian franchise partner, Wadi Degla, has said as many as 25 BurgerFuel sites could eventually be established in the country.

Ongoing clashes between supporters and opponents of Egypt's military-led Government - which deposed former President Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, last year - have scared off tourists and foreign investors, and weighed on the economy.

But Roberts said the unrest had not stopped most Egyptians from eating out and socialising.

"I think the turmoil will be there for some time, I suspect, but it's isolated," he said. "There are many areas where life goes on as usual and I think Maadi is one of those places."

BurgerFuel finalised a partnership with the founders of the Subway sandwich chain this year, which the company is aiming to use to enter new markets including the United States, Britain, China and India.

BurgerFuel, which also operates 36 stores in New Zealand and one in Australia, has said it hopes to open 1000 new stores over the next eight years.

Roberts said BurgerFuel's first store in Kuwait, its fifth Middle East market, was expected to open in about a month.

The company's shares closed down 5c yesterday at $2.20.

Store count

20 Middle East

36 New Zealand

1 Australia

- Christopher Adams of the NZ Herald

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