Entrepreneur Frank Cianciosi, the West Australian master franchisee of Lenard’s Chicken chain, has been found murdered in his East Perth Home. Police found the body of 51-year-old Cianciosi in his luxury penthouse on Friday.
His gay lover, Gerurdas Gerrit Heijne, 44, who was also his business partner, appeared in East Perth Magistrates Court charged with his murder. He was not required to enter a plea and was remanded in custody to appear in the Stirling Gardens Magistrates Court on 16 January.
Lenard’s, which was started in Brisbane in 1987, was estimated to have revenue of $145 million in the 2006 BRW fastest growing franchise list.
Yesterday Lenard’s issued a statement saying that Cianciosi had been a joint master franchisee for more than 10 years and would be sadly missed. It also said it would provide WA franchise owners and staff with all the support they need.
However the couple had spent last year defending themselves against allegations of bullying and mistreating franchisees. Disgruntled franchisees from Lenard’s and other large chains, including Bakers Delight and Midas, turned the protection of franchisees into an election issue.