Famous Brands, the South Africa-based operator of the Wimpy and Steers concepts, has said it is planning further expansion in the UK.
The company, which operates over 2,600 restaurants in total, including c85 in the UK, plans to add five more Wimpy sites here this year and one Steers restaurant.
The company’s strategic adviser and former chief executive Kevin Hedderwick told analysts: “I have spent a lot of time going back and forth looking for a suitable asset so we can get some momentum in the UK.”
He said that the group had just completed its best year in the UK, yet the business was still “pedestrian” by company standards.
Revenue in the UK gained 13% to R116m (£5.1m) in the year to end-February, yet fell by 2% in pounds. Total sales for the overall group were up 31% to R4.3bn, while operating profit increased 18% to R792 million.
Famous Brands said it was planning 292 new franchise restaurants this fiscal year and was reviewing its licensing agreement in the Middle East as growth in the region had been “a little bit slow”.
A total of 184 new restaurants were opened across the group’s portfolio during the year, bringing the total restaurant network to 2 614. During the period 205 restaurants were revamped.
“Stand-out performances were recorded by our mainstream brands, Steers, Wimpy, Debonairs Pizza, Mugg & Bean, FishAways and Milky Lane. Our emerging brands also delivered satisfying results, with a particularly strong performance reported by Turn ’n Tender,” said Hedderwick.
“We furthered our goal to expand the group’s presence in the casual evening dining trade segment by launching new brand concepts and establishing a number of key joint ventures.”
Subsequent to year-end the group acquired 51% stakes in Lupa Osteria, an authentic Italian restaurant business trading in the family casual dining segment, Salsa Mexican Grill, a fast-casual dining concept centered on traditional Mexican food and beverages, and Catch, a premium seafood and sushi brand.
The group also opened its pilot craft beer restaurant, 14 on Chartwell, in the review period and signed an agreement with global brand, PAUL, to become its South African licensed partner for a 10-year period.