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Wendy’s plots expansion in Brazil

Joint partnership signals burger chain’s focus on international growth

The Wendy’s Co. on Monday announced a joint partnership with a U.S. franchisee and an international restaurant developer that will enable the burger chain to expand big in Brazil.

Wendy’s Brazil is getting ready to open its first two restaurants in Sao Paulo next month.

The joint partnership, which was formed last year, is between affiliates of Infinity Services, an international restaurant franchisee, and Starboard, one of the Dublin, Ohio-based company’s largest U.S. franchisees, with 182 locations.

“We chose Sao Paulo for the Wendy’s introduction because it is the main financial and gastronomic capital of the country,” Marcel Gholmieh, CEO of Wendy’s Brazil and Infinity Services, said in a statement. “Our initial objective is to create flagship restaurant locations, establish the Wendy’s brand and then, longer-term, start thinking about potential partnerships with local groups in other areas of Brazil.”

The joint venture follows an aggressive move by its franchisee in Japan to buy a 136-unit brand there, with plans to establish a hybrid concept.

While its primary competitors in the quick-service burger business — McDonald’s Corp. and Restaurant Brands International’s Burger King — have well-established presences in international markets, Wendy’s has been slow to grow overseas. Only about 400 of its 6,500 locations are outside North America. 

The company is working to bolster its international growth through what the company calls a “narrow and deep” international strategy focusing on four markets: Japan, India, the Middle East and Brazil.

“Brazil is one of the key global markets where we see considerable potential,” Bob Wright, Wendy’s executive vice president, chief operations officer and international, said in a statement. “From the start, we want to ensure our restaurants in Brazil truly stand out in the minds of consumers in terms of food, service and atmosphere, and that we give them ‘a cut above’ experience they will excited to tell others about.”

Infinity Services is based in Sao Paulo and has brought several well-known brands to Brazil in recent years. Starboard, meanwhile, operates Wendy’s locations in nine states. CEO Andrew Levy and company president Marcos Silva lead Starboard. 

The two companies provide different skill sets: Infinity knows Brazil, while Starboard knows how to operate Wendy’s.

“We are pleased to partner with two highly capable operators who have a growth mindset, proven restaurant experience and a strong customer focus,” Wright said. “Starboard has a deep knowledge of Wendy’s operations and what it takes to run a successful Wendy’s restaurant, while Infinity Services is immersed in the Brazilian market and culture.”

Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

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