By: Aimee Shaw

American fastfood chain Taco Bell is finally coming to New Zealand.

Restaurant Brands made the announcement to the New Zealand Stock Exchange this morning that it had reached an agreement with Taco Bell Restaurants Asia to bring the Taco Bell brand to New Zealand and Australia.

The Taco Bell launch Down Under will begin next year, with more than 60 stores set to open. The stores will be built between January next year and June 2024.

Restaurant Brands already owns and operates 36 Taco Bell stores spread throughout Hawaii and Guam. Together those stores generated $19.4 million to the group in the last financial year.

Restaurant Brands group chief executive Russel Creedy said the company wanted to build a franchise system with the brand.

“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,” Creedy said.

“We know from our experience in Hawaii and Guam that Taco Bell is a top-tier brand backed by excellent franchise systems.”

While the Mexican food brand is not as well-known here as it is in the United States, First Retail Group managing director Chris Wilkinson said the launch would be well-received by Kiwis.

“There’s a changing appetite for these types of menu options. People are wanting more diversity in fast food,” he said.

“There isn’t actually a chain of Mexican food, there are smaller sit-down groups, but in terms of a quick-service restaurant model this will be the first.”

Mexican food operators were performing well in the market, Wilkinson said, evident with the expanding presence of other Mexican food brands such as Mexicali Fresh, Mexico and Zambrero.

Wilkinson said he expected the prices at Taco Bell to be in line with other Mexican food outlets, such as burritos priced around the $15 mark. “I don’t think they will be able to do it much cheaper. I expect it to be on par with other options.”

Taco Bell stores would likely open in shopping centres, and could even replace other brand stores in Restaurant Brands’ portfolio, such as Carl’s Jr, Wilkinson said.

“They may look at converting some of their existing stores within their portfolio. It’s more likely to be potentially the Carl’s Jr [brand] – It’s hard to know how well it is doing. They haven’t put in any new stores in since the first tranche. It seems to be sitting under the radar,” he said.

The Herald has approached Restaurant Brands for further comment.

In the 28 weeks to September 10, Restaurant Brands made $20.4m net profit after tax, up more than $1m from the same period a year earlier.

New Zealand sales totalled $179.3m in the first-half of the financial year, up $9m.

Restaurant Brands owns Carl’s Jr, Pizza Hut and KFC. It recently sold off its Starbucks business to investment company Tahua Capital for $4.4m.

Source: NZ Herald


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