Burger King NZ's losses piling up

By Sophie Boot

Photo / iStock
Photo / iStock

Blackstone Group's Burger King chain in New Zealand widened its annual loss after taking a charge against its Kiwi Pacific joint venture and incurring higher finance and raw material costs.

The net loss for Tango Holdings NZ widened to $7.6 million in the year to Dec. 31, from $7.5 million a year earlier, accounts filed with the Companies Office show. Revenue rose to $187.3 million, from $177.6 million in 2014.

The 2015 loss is the fourth since Tango was incorporated in October 2011, the month private equity firm Blackstone acquired the burger chain operator, Antares Restaurant Group, from Australian buyout firm Anchorage Capital Partners. While the burger chain increase sales in the latest year, total expenses were also higher at $191.2 million from $185.9 million and the results include a $529,765 impairment against Kiwi Pacific, its joint venture with Veritas Investments which it is in the process of winding up.

The parties were locked in a dispute over the interpretation of the supply deal for Kiwi Pacific, which was set to end on April 24 after Antares, the immediate owner of Burger King that's in turn owned by Tango, won an arbitration hearing, which Veritas had planned to appeal before changing its mind.

Antares chief executive John Hunter said 2015 had been a strong year, with Burger King increasing its revenue and market share, and the company had a positive outlook.
"We are very satisfied with the strong operating performance made over the past 12 months, and we look forward to making continued progress in 2016/17," Hunter said.

The company had refinanced its external debt since the start of the 2016 financial year, and its leverage now represented less than three times its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda), he said. The company had $79.3 million debt in 2015, from $149.2 million a year earlier. Net finance costs rose 2.6 percent to about $19 million in the latest year.

Raw material and consumable costs rose to $60.3 million from $57.8 million.
Tango Holdings has an agreement with Burger King Asia Pacific (BKAP) for a quota of restaurants to be opened by the end of 2016, giving BKAP the rights to charge it US$50,000 for every restaurant not opened by that date. The company said it is currently three restaurants short, and any charge incurred would be negotiated at the end of the year if the target wasn't met.

Burger King has 84 outlets nationwide and describes itself as the country's "second-largest burger quick service restaurant chain". It competes with McDonald's branded fast food outlets, which generated an annual profit of $30.8 million for McDonald's Restaurants (New Zealand) on sales of $221 million in 2014 - a combination of franchise fees and own-store sales.

The local fast food market is increasingly competitive, with the 2012 arrival of US chain Carl's Jr, brought over by Restaurant Brands, the NZX-listed KFC, Starbucks and Pizza Hut operator, to better compete against McDonald's and Burger King. BurgerFuel Worldwide, which listed on the NZAX in 2007, also operates a franchise model. McDonald's has run promotions such as dollar deals and recently made its breakfast menu available all day.

Burger King has dollar specials on frozen drinks, seasonal offers and a promotional partnership with heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker, which Hunter said had been "mutually rewarding."

- BusinessDesk

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