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edition 6 (221)
June 2017
Retail & leisure

Burgers to the Max


Burgers to the Max
Richard Bergfors, the CEO and co-owner of Max Premium Burgers

POLAND The first Polish restaurant of Swedish chain Max Premium Burgers is to open on September 1st. The restaurant will be located in Galeria Dominikańska in Wrocław. Max in Galeria Dominikańska, will be located on the ground floor where a Zara shop used to operate in line with the company’s policy of not opening in food courts.

“We originally intended that the first opening would be in Warsaw,” Richard Bergfors, the co-owner and CEO of Max Premium Burgers, tells us. So far the company has signed contracts for two restaurants to open in the capital city. These will be located in custom-built stand-alone buildings, one of which will be in Janki on the outskirts of Warsaw while the other is to be somewhere within the city limits. The company expects to be issued with the building permit for the first project within a few weeks. Negotiations are taking place with several shopping centres and a number of potential locations are being assessed. Max Premium Burgers has confirmed that one of the locations under consideration is the Złote Tarasy shopping centre in the heart of the city. The company is also now looking for new plots to buy or lease, particularly in Warsaw and its immediate area as well as in other large cities. It is also considering openings in shopping centres and on high streets. However, its priority will not be existing units in shopping centres but plots for the construction of the chain’s standard restaurant buildings that could also operate as drive-thrus. Two or three restaurants are to be opened by the end of the year – one or two are likely to be in Warsaw and the other in Gdańsk.

“Our aim for next year is to have opened four to six new restaurants: in Warsaw, Gdańsk and perhaps in Kraków. We currently have contracts signed for five locations,” explains Richard Bergfors. Max Premium Burger is also about to sign contracts on a number of other locations and around a further 20 are being considered. After the first two or three years in the country, the company intends to increase the pace with the opening of 20 restaurants each year over a period of ten years. Currently it is mostly interested in Warsaw, Gdańsk, Wrocław, Kraków, Szczecin, Gdynia, Poznań, Lublin and Katowice. The chain’s average restaurant has so far had an area of 400 sqm, but some could be as big as 800 sqm while others smaller than the average size could open too. Its stand-alone buildings will have areas of 480 sqm and should be located on 0.2–0.25 ha plots, which would include the car park and the drive-thru section. However, it also has specially designed concepts for promising locations, such as one in Wrocław in an existing building. The first and probably the second restaurant in Gdańsk should be in newly-built facilities. The contract for the second outlet is to be signed in the next few weeks, while the chain is still waiting for a building permit for the first.

Never closed down a restaurant

Its first 20 outlets in Poland are to be owned and managed by Max Premium Burgers, while for the others the company is considering franchising; however, its CEO admits that they have still to talk to any potential franchisees. “First we have to focus on the planned openings and making them successful; then we will think about franchising to help establish the chain across Poland,” explained the CEO of Max Premium Burgers. When asked what would happen if the business turned out not to be a success, he tells us that as a co-owner of the company and the son of its founder he has never had to close down a single restaurant and believes that it will be a similar story in Poland. “This does not seem to happen to me,” he says. In his opinion there are a number of reasons why this hasn’t happened: the interior design concept, the recipes, and – most of all – the quality of the food. The chain will also benefit from the fact that it will be something new. “Polish customers are getting rather bored with the culinary offer they currently have. Of course, it will take quite a long time to establish ourselves because the Polish market is unfamiliar to us and it will cost a substantial amount of money, but we should certainly be able to convince Polish consumers of our quality,” adds Richard Bergfors, who also goes on to add that the reason why he is so busy signing contracts for new locations even before the opening of the first restaurant is because he believes in the success of the chain. He has personally scrutinised each location and believes that those they have chosen in Poland so far are much better than for an average one of their restaurants in Sweden.

Richard Bergfors also reveals that they are receiving enquiries from franchisees from the Baltic states, Russia and Germany, but the company wants to focus on the Polish market for now due to its size. Along with Poland the company is entering Qatar and Egypt this year, but under a franchise arrangement. However, for the next year or two the company wants to focus exclusively on Poland. It is also considering the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the other countries in the region. “We have been working on the Polish market for a good two or three years. Our homework has probably already been done and we have familiarised ourselves with what makes the country specific,” says the company’s CEO.

Piotr Pawłowski, Max Premium Burgers’ business development director, is responsible for finding the locations and has been working in Poland with a number of real estate brokers. Previously was employed by McDonald’s, ECE and more recently by Unibail Rodamco.

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