Christopher Adams

Christopher Adams is the Markets and Banking reporter for the New Zealand Herald

McDonald's chewing over Georgie Pie

A campaign to bring back George Pie, which closed in 1999, has had plenty of support. Photo / Richard Robinson
A campaign to bring back George Pie, which closed in 1999, has had plenty of support. Photo / Richard Robinson

McDonald's is evaluating how Georgie Pie might be integrated into its business, but is also wary of being accused of "bastardising" one of the country's best-loved brands, says the fast food firm's new boss in New Zealand.

McDonald's acquired the pie chain from supermarket operator Progressive Enterprises in 1996, largely to get hold of its real estate.

Georgie Pie closed in 1999, but McDonald's still holds the trademark and intellectual property rights for the brand.

McDonald's NZ managing director Patrick Wilson said the company was putting more resources into evaluating what it could do with the pie brand, although he said exactly what those resources were was "commercially sensitive".

The company renewed its trademark on Georgie Pie last year, according to the Intellectual Property Office website, and will not have to renew it again until 2021.

"I guess we're still trying to figure out how we take that - the best of what people saw in Georgie Pie - and integrate it into our brand or not integrate it into our brand, depending on what would work best," Wilson said.

Emotions run high around the brand - a "Bring Back Georgie Pie" Facebook group has almost 50,000 members - and Wilson said there was a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" element to whatever McDonald's did with it.

"If we brought it back into McDonald's ... and it wasn't exactly what people remembered it being, [then] we're a big US corporate ripping off a great New Zealand brand and I guess in some ways bastardising that product."

Mark Hawthorne, Wilson's predecessor at McDonald's NZ, has said Georgie Pie could potentially be introduced through the company's McCafe stores.

But last year he said Kiwis' love for the pie brand was based on the fact that its products sold for $1, 15 years ago, and they would have to sell for at least $2.90 today.

Martin Gummer, an Auckland businessman who has claimed his attempts to reintroduce the pie brand were thwarted by the Golden Arches, has said McDonald's saw its return as a threat to burger sales.

"McDonald's realises the pie market in New Zealand is actually a very big market - it's a bigger market than the hamburger market," Gummer said last year.

"If you look at it in big picture terms, McDonald's biggest threat is not Burger Fuel or whatever else, it's [a return of] Georgie Pie."

- NZ Herald

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