Christopher Adams

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

New fast-food kid on block hits Queen St

The Carl's Jr menu has been criticised for its high calorie content. Photo / Supplied
The Carl's Jr menu has been criticised for its high calorie content. Photo / Supplied

Queen St's already crowded fast-food market is set to become even more chock-a-block as Restaurant Brands prepares to open its first Carl's Jr store on the central city's main drag.

The American fast-food chain specialises in "char-broiled" burgers and has been dubbed the "world's worst" for its high-calorie meals.

Restaurant Brands - which runs KFC, Starbucks and Pizza Hut stores - has bought the rights to operate the chain in this country from CKE Restaurants in the United States.

An existing franchisee, part-owned by former All Black Michael Jones, already operates two Carl's Jr stores in Auckland's Takanini and St Johns and has rights to develop a limited number of further sites in the city.

Restaurant Brands chief executive Russel Creedy said the company expected to open the Queen St Carl's Jr store in October, but would not reveal the exact location.

"We've been working on it for a little while," Creedy said. "If you took a walk up and down Queen St you might start to see some building activity."

Carl's Jr will join McDonald's and Burger King, which already operate two and three stores each on Queen St, respectively, while Wendy's has one restaurant on the shopping strip.

McDonald's and Burger King also have stores in the Westfield Downtown shopping centre.

There are numerous other independent fast-food businesses - such as kebab shops - and a new Asian food court will soon open at the Queen Street Markets, in the old MidCity Cinema centre.

Creedy said the company did not see the heavy competition as a problem, rather an opportunity to pinch other fast-food operators' customers. "There's a lot of people [on Queen St] and a lot of business."

Friday and Saturday night social crowds, who gravitate towards the burger joints after they have finished hitting the bars, were an added bonus.

But Creedy would prefer the Carl's Jr store to open only until 1am or 2am on the weekends, not 24 hours, because round-the-clock restaurants were difficult to operate.

At the Restaurant Brands annual meeting on Friday, Creedy said the company planned to open 25 Carl's Jr stores over the next five years.

"We have a great deal of enthusiasm for this brand and believe it has the potential to be our second biggest business [after KFC] within the next five years," he said.

Yesterday, he said Restaurant Brands had the capacity to grow to the point where it operated eight to 10 separate food chains in New Zealand.

Steakhouses, ice cream, pie and sushi stores are all "areas of interest" the firm has said it could expand into.

Creedy was not keen to name any of the businesses the company was interested in, but said Restaurant Brands hoped to add a fifth brand to its portfolio within the next two to three years, and the sixth within the next five years.

Restaurant Brands shares closed steady yesterday at $2.10.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 24 Jul 2014 06:59:52 Processing Time: 648ms