Mystery buyer of Urban Burger revealed, as remaining stores to rebrand

The mystery surrounding the fate of burger chain Urban Burger has been solved, with fellow burger business Burger Urge announcing itself as the new owner of the chain this week.

Burger Urge co-owner Sean Carthew told SmartCompany Burger Urge has acquired the master franchise rights to Urban Burger and will start rebranding the nine remaining Urban Burger stores immediately.

SmartCompany reported the sale of Urban Burger to a new operator at the start of June, after a number of the chain’s stores closed their doors. Carthew says the acquisition was settled on June 12.  

The Urban Burger outlets in the Melbourne suburbs of Balaclava and Middle Park stopped trading this year, while the owner of a third outlet in Elwood in Melbourne’s south told SmartCompany he has chosen not to renew his franchise agreement with the new owner.

Carthew says there are currently four Urban Burger stores in Queensland and five in Melbourne, and all stores are expected to be converted to the Burger Urge brand.

“The Urban Burger brand, IP and all processes, systems and recipes will be shelved,” says Carthew.

“Sailsbury [in Queensland] is the first store to be converted and opens on Tuesday,” says Carthew. “All Queensland stores will be completed by Christmas and we will commence in Melbourne in 2015.

Speaking about why Burger Urge was interested in the Urban Burger franchise, Carthew says “there were obvious synergies with both companies being in the gourmet burger market”.

“And we saw an opportunity to roll out a number of new stores in short sequence given the existing infrastructure and franchisee involvement,” he says.

Carthew started Burger Urge with brother Colby in 2007, opening their first store on Brunswick Street in Brisbane. The chain operates five stores in Queensland and this week announced plans to expand to 40 stores, including the nine rebranded Urban Burger outlets, by 2016.

The chain has also welcomed Eagle Boys founder Tom Potter on board as chair, which it says will help it achieve its ambitious expansion plans.

The appointment formalises a six year relationship between Potter and the Carthews, with the duo having approached Potter to mentor them in the early days of their company.

Burger Urge is known for its controversial approach to advertising and marketing, attracting complaints in 2013 about an advertisement featuring an image of a woman licking a cow’s face.

The chain also made headlines in 2011 for a promotional pen in the shape of a syringe and in 2013 it launched a ‘Clive Palmer’ burger.


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