Christopher Adams

Christopher Adams is the Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

BurgerFuel goes drive-through

Fast-food operator will start service at a site soon to open in Dubai, where it has six stores.

BurgerFuel has restaurants in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Photo / Supplied
BurgerFuel has restaurants in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Photo / Supplied

Kiwi fast food operator BurgerFuel will open its first drive-through store early next year.

Although the concept will be first established at a soon-to-open site in Dubai, where the company already operates six restaurants, chief executive Josef Roberts says the NZX-listed company plans to introduce the new service to the New Zealand market.

He said 10 to 12 drive-through restaurants could be opened here over the next three to four years.

"The objective right now is to get the Dubai site operational and running smoothly, take the learnings and look at rolling out from there," Roberts said.

He said it had been a challenge to find a way to serve customers in less than two minutes at a drive-through window - a tough task with gourmet burgers cooked to order.

Until now, BurgerFuel has aimed to serve customers in less than six minutes.

Assembly processes had been reorganised to achieve maximum speed, Roberts said, adding that BurgerFuel would still be 30 to 60 seconds slower than multi-national fast food chains, such as McDonald's and Burger King.

Chris Mason, BurgerFuel's founder and chief executive of international markets, said the "ultimate site" had been secured for the Dubai drive-through store.

It was near one of the main entrances to Jumeirah Beach, which pulls in more than 10 million visitors a year, Mason said.

"It's a large prominent corner site with high visibility, 40 car parks and can seat 150 customers on one of the UAE's [United Arab Emirates] busiest streets."

While drive-throughs were common among the large multi-national fast food chains, Mason said there didn't appear to be any operated at the premium end of the market.

"We think this is the first true gourmet burger drive-through in the world."

Roberts said offering convenience was a big part of fast-food service.

"There are a lot of people sitting in cars who want a quick solution to hunger and we think that's an opportunity for us to extend our market through providing the ability for them to order from their car."

Roberts said the service would be particularly appreciated in Dubai, where summer temperatures can reach almost 50C and people avoid leaving their air-conditioned vehicles.

It was hoped that the new Dubai store would turn over more than $70,000 a week, he said.

"That's allowing some additional turnover coming through the drive-through."

Roberts said BurgerFuel would like to roll the new service out across the Middle East, where the firm also operates stores in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

BurgerFuel will soon establish restaurants in Egypt, Libya, Qatar and Kuwait.

Back in New Zealand, he said drive-throughs could not be tagged on to existing restaurants so the concept could only be applied to new stores.

There were good opportunities at main road locations across the country, particularly in Christchurch and Auckland, Roberts said.

BurgerFuel opened new stores in Saudi Arabia and Dubai last month.

And in October the company opened stores in Auckland's Silverdale and Pukekohe.

- NZ Herald

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