“Hundreds” of Wendy’s restaurants will soon open across Australia – and we finally know where the first stores will be located.
Speaking to News Corp Australia this week, Wendy’s chief development officer Abigail Pringle revealed residents of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane would be the first in the country to get their hands on the chain’s famous burgers, fries and “Frosty” desserts.
She said Wendy’s was in “active conversations” and having Zoom calls with potential franchisees in a bid to muscle in on fast food leaders McDonald’s and Hungry Jacks.
The company is currently working on possible franchise models and weighing up whether to purchase new land for the upcoming Australian restaurants, which could come in the form of diners only, or with drive-through options attached.
Residents of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane would be the first in the country to get their hands on the chain’s famous burgers, fries and frosty desserts. Picture: Saul Loeb/AFP
The company has every reason to be confident of success, following an “overwhelmingly positive” response from Aussies during a one-day pop up event in 2021, which revealed Australia to be a “high-priority” growth market.
“Ultimately, our brand footprint in Australia will be determined with our master franchisee, tapping into their local perspective and expertise,” Ms Pringle told News Corp.
“Based on our market research, we know Australian consumers are craving fresh, high-quality, great tasting food at affordable prices and that’s what we plan to give them.
“Wendy’s will position as comparable in quality to ‘better burger’ brands, with pricing comparable to traditional fast-food competitors.
“Wendy’s is a challenger brand, and we believe there is space in the hamburger category to offer something different.”
However, she did acknowledge Wendy’s was attempting to break into the market during a cost of living crisis and that “rising costs have understandably had an impact on everyone around the world” – a factor some have speculated could affect Wendy’s roll out.
Wendy’s chief development officer Abigail Pringle said ‘hundreds’ of stores were coming our way.
“It’s quite an interesting time to contemplate entering Australia,” Queensland University of Technology retail expert Gary Mortimer told news.com.au this week.
“They’re saying it won’t be another year to 18 months before we start seeing stores around, but if you look at hospitality, restaurant and cafe sales since June last year, they’ve really flatlined to about $5 billion a month now.
“They’re not up or down, they’re just flatlining, and [during downturns] what traditionally happens is people stop eating out as much, and shift to either eating in, or to value offers like McDonald’s and Hungry Jacks value meals, not premium burgers, so the economics is quite interesting.”
And there’s also another snag on the horizon for Wendy’s – the fact that the similarly-named Wendy’s Milk Bar dessert chain has already existed in Australia for decades.
“There can’t be two Wendy’s,” Whyalla Wendy’s owner Dean Tully bluntly told The Guardian this week regarding the name clash.
“They can come to Australia and strut their stuff by all means, but I wouldn’t want it to be under the Wendy’s banner.”
A one-day Wendy’s pop-up event in Sydney in 2021 sparked a frenzy. Picture: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP
The name double up has already caused widespread confusion among Aussies, with many mistakenly believing the two were affiliated.
Meanwhile, Hungry Jack’s founder Jack Cowin has downplayed the threat posed by Wendy’s, cheekily pointing out to the Australian Financial Review that the chain already had one failed attempt to enter Australia under its belt.
“What they don’t mention is that they’ve been here before,” Mr Cowin told the publication.
“I think we ended up buying [Wendy’s] from the bank.”
Big problem with Wendy’s Australia moveUS giant bringing ‘hundreds’ of stores to Oz
According to the AFR, Wendy’s launched a string of restaurants in Melbourne in the early ’80s before folding in 1985 with debts of $8 million – with Mr Cowin snapping up the 11 failed stores and turning most into Hungry Jack’s.
He added that Wendy’s would struggle to adapt to Australia’s significantly higher wages as well as building recognition among a population attached to McDonald’s and Hungry Jack’s after decades in the market.