Australia will import another American fast-food behemoth, with burger chain Five Guys signing on Seagrass Boutique Hospitality Group (BHG) as its master franchisee Down Under.
Seagrass hopes to open about 20 Five Guys stores across Australia, and is currently scouting sites in Sydney’s CBD with an eye to a launch in the first half of 2021.
The family business, founded in 2003, already operates 40 restaurants under brands such as The Meat & Wine Co., Italian Street Kitchen, Hunter Barrel and 6 Head.
Chris Goodchild, Five Guys’ director of operations across Asia Pacific, will be working with Seagrass to expand the business in Australia.
He tells SmartCompany the Australian market will be “highly competitive” but its nothing Five Guys isn’t up for.
“The premium burger market has really exploded in Australia over the last five to ten years,” Goodchild says.
“We see Australia as a fantastic new market for us, we think we can do really well.”
Founded in 1986, Five Guys has 1,500 locations in the United States and a dozen other countries around the world, with franchised operations in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
The brand is known in the United States for its McDonald’s-style restaurant efficiency, but is associated with higher quality produce, having achieved high growth in the states over the last decade as the market has trended to a more gourmet offering.
Goodchild says Australia could support as many as 40 Five Guys locations, but the chain won’t look to saturate the market, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Five Guys works best as a destination venue, we’re never ambitious to try and flood the market,” he says.
“From a business perspective we have to work smart and be strategic, understanding great areas of the market might be changing at the moment.
“What was a great location previously might not be a great location next year.”
Seagrass’ chief marketing officer David Owens says high visibility ground floor locations are being targeted.
“We believe Australia will embrace Five Guys given the quality, value, and authenticity of the brand,” Owens said in a statement.
Five Guys is just the latest American fast food import to make its way Down Under, with the likes of Taco Bell and Little Caesars also putting down roots in Australia over the last five years.
The burger category has been high growth in Australia for some time, with gourmet-focused independent businesses thriving in recent years as consumers look beyond veteran brands such as McDonald’s and Hungry Jacks.
That trend has seen homegrown businesses including Burger Urge and Huxtaburger achieve high growth locally — but the introduction of American giants with a similar market focus is set to ratchet up competition.