Private equity-owned Rockpool Dining Group is expanding into New Zealand with multi-million-dollar plans to bring its network of restaurants to this country.
Rockpool Dining Group, owned by Australian private equity firm Quadrant, owns and operates 74 restaurants throughout Australia under 15 restaurants brands, these include The Bavarian, Beerhaus and Rockpool Bar & Grill and Spice Temple.
The group will open its first New Zealand restaurant, The Bavarian, in Westfield Newmarket in Auckland in October in time for the shopping centre's grand opening. The 400-seat restaurant will be situated on the top floor of the centre's luxury dining and entertainment precinct Rooftop on Broadway.
The Bavarian restaurant chain specialises in German and Bavarian meats and is located in 27 shopping centres in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.
Rockpool Dining is currently in the process of opening 10 new restaurants in Australia, including four The Bavarians, and plans to open up to seven restaurants in New Zealand in the next two years and spend approximately $30 million in the expansion.
Rockpool Dining chief executive Thomas Pash said the group planned to bring its El Camino Cantina and Fratelli Fresh restaurants to New Zealand.
"We've got a two- to three-year plan that we will hopefully open between five and seven restaurants across New Zealand," Pash said. "We think we can do several Bavarians across New Zealand. We've got several locations that we're looking at and more than 15 opportunities right now. We're looking at opportunities top to bottom, all the way down to Queenstown.
"Ultimately, we believe that we can have 20 or potentially more restaurant across our key growth brands in New Zealand."
Pash said Rockpool Dining looked for new shopping centres in areas in growing markets and in areas with increasing populations to open its venues. It typically costs about $2-$3m to open a venue and each location hires between 40-60 staff.
New Zealand's growing and "emerging" hospitality scene and similarities to the Australian market made it a logical place to expand into, Pash said.
"We really think consumers are ready for Rockpool brands."
Rockpool Dining was created when Urban Purveyor Group, owned by Quadrant Private Equity since 2015, acquired Fratelli Fresh and Rockpool Group in 2016. The group rebranded shortly after and changed its name to Rockpool Dining Group.
The group's expansion strategy is focused on opening more casual restaurants.
Australian chef Neil Perry oversees the culinary direction of Rockpool Dining's premium restaurants such as Rockpool Bar & Grill, Spice Temple and Rosetta. He does not have a role in the group's casual restaurant brands such as The Bavarian.
Rockpool is currently focused on its New Zealand expansion before it explores opportunities in other international markets, Pash said.
Last year the company opened 22 restaurants, it will open an additional 25 this year across both markets.
Rockpool Dining Group posted revenue of $450m in the last financial year, making it one of the Asia Pacific region's largest hospitality groups.