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Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022

Taco Bell Heats Up Down Under

A franchiser of fast food restaurants has said Australia looks good for more Taco Bell locations—in some cases possibly replacing Sizzler locations it operates there.

It’s the second franchiser in several months to say Australia or New Zealand will see more of the Irvine-based fast food franchise.

Taco Bell has tried twice—once in the 1980s and once in the 1990s—to launch in Australia with each effort ending with the closing its locations.

Queensland-based Collins Foods Ltd. opened the only Taco Bell in Australia in November and said at the time it plans to have two more by the end of this year. Local news reports this week suggested a full roll-out is in the works, and that the company may close some of its 13 Sizzler restaurants there to make room for the new venture.

Its single Taco Bell location in Brisbane sports the chain’s new design—“exposed pipes and walls daubed with street art”—and replaced a Sizzler, an Aussie news report said.

Collins trades on the Australian Securities Exchange in Sydney at a market cap of $475 million (USD) and didn’t provide details on its plans for Taco Bell but in its earnings report—annual profit was up 22% to about $24 million—said it was in “an exciting new phase” with Taco Bell, and “Sizzler continues its transition.”

Sizzler profits were down 22% and Collins closed three sites in the last year. Its Australia locations aren’t part of Sizzler USA, based in Mission Viejo, though the chain’s 60-year history includes affiliation with a Collins Ltd. predecessor company.

Collins Foods Ltd. is the largest franchisee of KFC in Australia, with 223 locations. It has 33 in Germany and Netherlands.

A news report said it owns Taco Bell rights in Australia. A Collins spokesperson via email declined to comment on where it will open locations; a Taco Bell spokesperson said it doesn’t have a master franchisee for the country.

Collins is the second franchiser in two months to float possible Taco Bell growth in either Australia or New Zealand.

Restaurant Brands NZ Ltd. said in an investor presentation in April it will begin to open locations. The Taco Bell spokesperson said New Zealand also doesn’t yet have a master franchisee.

Restaurant Brands, which trades at about a $714 million market cap, bought 82 Pizza Hut and Taco Bell sites in Hawaii last year and wants to buy U.S. franchise groups with “70 to 100 stores at a time,” a report said.


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