Foodservice Equipment Reports

Wimpy Owner Buys Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Famous Brands, which owns two dozen quick-service and casual-dining brands including Steers and Wimpy, has acquired Gourmet Burger Kitchen for UK£120m.

The South African-based company announced an agreement in September to buy 97% of GBK from YellowWood Group and the remaining 3% from management.

GBK now comprises 75 restaurants across the UK. It was founded by three New Zealanders in south London in 2001, and acquired by the YellowWood Group in 2010. More than 90% of the restaurant portfolio has either been refurbished or opened in the past five years and the brand recently bought back the rights to its franchise business in Ireland, which adds five more restaurants to its portfolio.

Kevin Hedderwick, Famous Brands’ group strategic advisor, calls the acquisition of GBK a perfect opportunity to expand in the U.K. “Furthermore, there is opportunity to export the brand to South Africa, which would afford Famous Brands representation in the premium burger fast-casual dining category where we do not currently compete.”

Hedderwick adds, “As far back as 2007 when we acquired the Wimpy business in the U.K., the Group is on record as saying that we would use our foray into the UK as a beachhead to expand our presence in the market as and when suitable opportunities presented themselves. Our investment in the Wimpy U.K. business has given us invaluable learning in terms of an understanding of and insight into the local market.”

Alasdair Murdoch, who will stay on as CEO of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, says GBK aims to open 10 to 15 restaurants a year in the U.K. and look at other growth opportunities.

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