Burgerfuel Plans Store In Libya


Thursday 12th April 2012

BurgerFuel has already opened eight stores throughout the Middle East and North Africa and now plans to open a store in Libya, a fledgling democracy that remains volatile months after its dictator was killed.

Saudi Arabia was the first country outside Australasia to get a taste of the Kiwi business, with the first of three stores opening there two years ago. Chief executive Josef Roberts says the move into the conservative Muslim country made perfect sense for a company that doesn't even have stores in the South Island yet. “There's a lot of resource there, there's a lot of wealth there, and there's a lot of young population there.We saw that as a market that not many companies like us were tapping into.”

The four Dubai stores are also extremely popular, but the brand is finding success in more far-flung areas too. Its recently-opened store in the Kurdish province of northern Iraq counts the country's First Lady among its fans “That northern region again - life goes on. People are living more of a European kind of style of life,” Mr Roberts says.

The company is about to spread even further afield, with plans to open a Libyan franchise in Tripoli next year. It is a risky move, with some parts of Libya still volatile after dictator Muammar Gaddafi's assassination last October. “We know that it's possible that we could be on tv with a street fight outside, but we're not a brand that's timid, that's afraid or trying to hide,” Mr Roberts says.

The Middle East is a rapidly growing market for New Zealand businesses. Exports are dominated by dairy and meat, but consumer brands like Pumpkin Patch and Bendon can also be seen alongside BurgerFuel in shopping malls. New Zealand Middle East and Africa trade commissioner Steve Jones warns it is not easy doing business in the region. “Companies coming up here need to be prepared for a bureaucratic environment which is unlike anything they've experienced in New Zealand. Issues through getting visas to live/work, opening bank accounts can be tricky, getting trading licenses can be tricky.”

BurgerFuel has also faced cultural challenges, having to replace bacon with a beef substitute, and make some changes to its distinctive burger names in Saudi Arabia, Mr Roberts says. “We don't have the Bastard burger up there - we call it the Roadster.” But no challenge will stop this distinctive brand from continuing its spread through the Arab world, with new stores in Egypt, Qatar and Abu Dhabi also on the menu this year.

Kim Choe - TV3 News

To watch the full interview visit  http://www.3news.co.nz/Burgerfuel-plans-store-in-Libya/tabid/369/articleID/250082/Default.aspx