Shares in gourmet burger company BurgerFuel jumped more than 21 per cent yesterday after it announced a partnership with California-based franchisor OhCal Foods as part of its plan to break into the US market.

The New Zealand burger chain, which also operates in Australia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, has been eyeing the competitive US market since early last year when it raised $5.9 million from US investor Franchise Brands to help fund its global growth aspirations.

BurgerFuel chief executive Josef Roberts said the latest partnership with OhCal, which services more than 2100 Subway restaurant outlets, was its next strategic move.

"Following the deal last year, we set about studying what we recognised as the two key elements for our US expansion," Roberts said.


"The first was how best for us to maximise the Franchise Brands relationship, specifically the development machine behind Subway's phenomenal growth," he said.

"Secondly, we wanted to understand the US landscape in as much detail as possible, before settling on a strategic entry plan, including selection of our first state and a refined BurgerFuel model for this highly competitive, but potentially massive market."

Roberts said the company was in the process of selecting sites for its US launch and was planning to have its first stores open before the end of the calendar year, but said it was important for them to understand the market first.

"The US is not a market you want to rush into," Roberts said. "We felt that as a Kiwi company we have really needed to understand what's going on in that market." The company's shares closed up 21.53 per cent at $3.50 yesterday.