Fast food operator Restaurant Brands is once again stoking speculation that it could bring Mexican chain Taco Bell to New Zealand.
At the company's annual meeting yesterday, chairman Ted van Arkel said the firm's three established brands - KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks - were performing strongly, while its newest brand, Carl's Jr, was gaining traction.
Restaurant Brands was "starting to get to a position where we can begin to evaluate another brand opportunity".
"Whilst it would be premature to start speculating now, we have been scanning the marketplace in a number of sectors including Mexican, Asian, mid-scale casual dining and lunch day-part opportunities," van Arkel said.
There has long been speculation that Restaurant Brands could add Taco Bell to its stable.
The New Zealand company has a strong relationship with Taco Bell's parent company, American fast food giant Yum Brands, which also owns the KFC and Pizza Hut brands.
Restaurant Brands stated its intention to introduce Taco Bell a few years ago, but that plan was put on hold after Yum pulled back on a roll-out of the Mexican brand into new markets outside the United States.
The company could potentially look at introducing another Mexican brand from overseas, or acquire an existing local operator.
Potential Asian food opportunities for the firm are a little less clear.
However, in 2012 the company said sushi was a potential market segment it could move into.
Restaurant Brands also said yesterday that it would open two to three more Carl's Jr stores in the coming year in Wellington and Christchurch, while investment into its KFC store network would continue.
In April the company reported a 19 per cent lift in profit to $23.8 million.
Restaurant Brands shares, which have gained 36 per cent over the last 12 months, opened at $4.30 this morning.