Franchising

Urban Burger business flipped to unknown buyer, some stores close while others rebrand

Eloise Keating /

The Urban Burger fast food chain has been sold to an unnamed burger franchise operator, as a number of Urban Burger stores close their doors.

The Urban Burger outlets in the Melbourne suburbs of Balaclava and Middle Park have closed and a third outlet in Elwood in Melbourne’s south will soon rebrand under the name Saintly, with the store’s owner telling SmartCompany he has chosen not to renew his franchise agreement with the new owner.

“I will keep trading as the local Elwood burger bar,” he says.

A staff member at the Urban Burger store in Salisbury, Queensland, told SmartCompany the store is currently for sale, while the Urban Burger store in Port Melbourne rebranded to Burger House around 12 months ago.

The two Urban Burger stores in Molendinar and Wellington Point in Queensland are still trading, but SmartCompany was unable to speak to the owners.

The phone number listed for the Queensland store at Pacific Pines has been disconnected and there was no response when SmartCompany attempted to call the store at Browns Plains in Queensland.

The Elwood store owner, who requested not to be named, says the complete Urban Burger network has been sold, in the latest ownership change for the burger chain.

The store owner says the remaining two Victorian Urban Burger outlets in North Melbourne and Richmond will continue to trade under the new ownership. SmartCompany attempted to contact the owners of the stores but did not receive a response prior to publication.

It is not clear how many other Urban Burger stores are still operating. In May 2013, the company was reportedly operating six stores in Victoria and four outlets in Queensland.

Urban Burger was founded in 2003 and acquired by The Heal Group in 2011, although owner Shane Heal subsequently filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

According to QSR Media, the business was purchased by a company called Australian Franchising Corporation in July 2013, with previous owner Jason Chainey remaining involved with the company in an advisory role.

SmartCompany attempted to contact Urban Burger’s head office but has not received a response. The phone number listed for the Australian Franchising Corporation is disconnected.

The Urban Burger website is offline and the company’s Facebook page and Twitter account has not been updated since mid-March.

The Elwood store owner, who has operated an Urban Burger franchise for a number of years, says the chain lost direction amid multiple changes in ownership.

However, the owner says it’s a positive change for the Elwood store. And he is not bitter about the end of his franchise agreement, which he says gave him “confidence as the owner and operator of his own business”.

The support of a franchise network was instrumental in building up the store, but the owner says franchise businesses will only be successful if effort is made to maintain the relationship between the franchisor and franchisee.

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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