Restaurant Brands New Zealand Ltd. said in an investor presentation and in a news report it wants to buy a Taco Bell franchise group on the U.S. mainland, bring the brand to New Zealand, and expand the chain in Australia.
New Zealand has no Taco Bell locations; Australia has one.
The Auckland-based company is master franchiser in New Zealand for Irvine-based Taco Bell’s sister chains KFC and Pizza Hut—the three are owned by Louisville, Ky.-based Yum Brands Inc.—and for Carl’s Jr. and Starbucks.
Restaurant Brands runs 314 restaurants; 75% are in New Zealand and Australia; the rest originate from 82 Pizza Huts and Taco Bells it bought in Hawaii last year for about $125 million.
Chief Executive Russel Creel told a local news outlet the U.S. West Coast looks good after its Hawaii expansion, and Texas is another candidate. He wants Taco Bell franchisees with “70 to 100 stores at a time,” the report said.
New Zealand is an option given the company’s master franchising there and Australia could be next.
Restaurant Brands reported 2017 annual sales of $544 million and net profit of $26 million. It trades on the New Zealand All Index at a $642 million market cap and said it can hit $1 billion in sales within five years.
Australia in November saw the opening of its first Taco Bell, this one by Queensland-based Collins Foods Ltd, the country’s largest KFC franchisee.
Collins was planning its second Taco Bell location by June, and third by the end of the year in the Mexican-themed fast food giant’s third foray there.
Two other efforts, in 1981 and between 1997 and 2005, were shut down.