Australia’s burgeoning burrito appetite is set to be tested in 2019 with New South Wales and the ACT set for a share of 60 new Taco Bell locations, adding to the Tex-Mex goliath’s single store in Brisbane.
Dual-listed franchisee operator Restaurant Brands New Zealand announced on Tuesday it had reached agreement with Taco Bell’s Asian arm to bring 60 stores to New Zealand, NSW and the ACT, starting in 2019, adding to a Down Under Tex-Mex landscape that also includes Guzman y Gomez and Mad Mex.
Restaurant Brands, which currently owns and operates 36 Taco Bell stores in Guam and Hawaii, also holds the right of first offer to establish new Taco Bell restaurants in Australia and NZ.
“Bringing the Taco Bell brand to this part of the world aligns with our strategy of focusing on global tier-one brands in markets we understand,” Restaurant Brands’ group chief executive Russel Creedy said on Monday.
In October Brisbane-based Collins Foods also announced plans to roll out 50 Taco Bell restaurants across Australia over the next three years, adding to the sole store it operates in Brisbane.
Taco Bell mounted previous unsuccessful attempts to crack the Australian market in the 1980s and 1990s.
Restaurant Brands said it expects the initial 60-store build to be funded from internally generated cash flows and completed by 2024.
However, it predicted that “it will take several years for the brand to make a significant contribution from the Australian and New Zealand markets”.
The company said the Taco Bell deal was not conditional on the 75 per cent takeover offer from Mexican investor Finaccess Capital.
Restaurant Brands also operates Pizza Hut, KFC, and Starbucks franchises across Australia and New Zealand.
Shares in Restaurant Brands were last trading on the ASX at $7.33, down from a June 2018 peak of $8.05.