Smashburger, the highly-regarded US burger operator, will have its UK strategy finalised by the end of this year, which will see it look to open two to three sites here over the next two years through a joint venture with an experienced sector operator. Dave Prokupek, chief executive, told M&C Report that the group would take a “Chipotle approach” in terms of the speed of its roll out here and that it would initially look to do a number of JV sites in London, including in villages such as Wimbledon and Richmond, before looking at having three or four regional franchisees to grow the chain nationally. He said the group’s £9-£11 price point would allow it to fit into a gap in the UK market and provide a difference to current market leaders Byron and GBK. “By the end of this year we believe we will have our UK strategy in place,” said Prokupek. “We are in no hurry, like Chipotle we will take our time to get the right sites, which may not necessarily be in central London. We appeal to families and kids, therefore the more village sites like Wimbledon would appeal to us. We think the market has fantastic potential for the brand.” He said that he was in talks with half a dozen people about opening in the UK but that “you don’t always marry the first girl that you meet”. “Other businesses have teamed up with retail operators, we want to tap into people who are already operating in the sector or have experience in the casual, fast casual and QSR environment, said Prokupek. “Having the owner actively involved and engaged to help grow the brand is critical to us.” Prokupek said that he admired the current UK food market especially the development of the fast casual Asian category, which he believed more developed here than in the US. Smashburger was founded in 2007 by Tom Ryan, a veteran of fast food chains including McDonald’s and Pizza Hut, and has grown to 200 sites in five years. The company has 40 franchisees in the US committed to building 400 sites. It opened its first sites in Kuwait, Canada and Costa Rica last year. It wants to ultimately operate 2,000 international outlets.