Burger King sold to owners of Starbucks in New Zealand

Fast food chain Burger King has been sold to investment company Tahua Partners, the owners of the Starbucks franchise in New Zealand.

Receivers of the parent companies of the local Burger King business, Brendon Gibson and Grant Graham of Calibre Partners (formerly KordaMentha), have signed an agreement for the sale of the business.

Subject to meeting conditions, Antares Restaurant Group Limited will be purchased by Tahua Partners for an undisclosed sum.

Receivers hope to have the deal settled next week and Tahua Partners will take over the business from November 1.

The existing Antares management team will continue to run operations.

Burger King was placed into receivership in April, following mandatory store closures under lockdown due to Covid-19 and hit the business hard.

Even before the pandemic, Burger King had lost the support of its parent company Blackstone, which had decided not to put any additional equity into the business.

At the time of receivership, the chain had 83 stores and employed more than 2600 staff.

It has since closed five stores, and now operates 78 restaurants and employs 1800 staff throughout the country, according to a statement from receivers.

“This is an excellent outcome for the business, staff, landlords, suppliers and loyal Burger King guests and we would like to take the opportunity to thank all of those stakeholders for their support through what has been an unsettling last six months,” Gibson said.

“Securing a going concern sale in the current environment is testament to the drive and commitment of Antares’ management team and all its employees,” he said.

Burger King is the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in New Zealand.

In 2018, Tahua Capital purchased the assets for the NZ Starbucks business from Restaurant Brands for $4.4 million, following a period of declining sales and unprofitable sales.

Tahua executive director, John Elliott, said the company planned to invest in the Burger King New Zealand platform and its people.

“Based on the strength of the Burger King brand and the loyalty of our valued team members, supply partners and guests, we see a lot of potential for the brand in New Zealand,” Elliot said.

“Our local industry experience means we are uniquely positioned to help the business achieve its full potential in the New Zealand market, and to ensure it’s a high-performing hospitality business delivering for its guests.”

Burger King and Antares chief executive Michelle Alexander said the takeover was “fantastic news” and she was looking forward working with a new owner that ‘understands the business and industry and who is committed to investing in the long-term future of the Burger King brand” in New Zealand.

“This announcement is great news after an unsettling period. The Antares management team is excited for the long-term prospects of the Burger King brand in New Zealand under Tahua’s ownership as we continue to provide the best outcomes for the business, our loyal employees and supply partners, and our valued guests.”

In April, in a letter addressed to staff, Alexander said Burger King’s inability to earn revenue through lockdowns had created significant financial challenges for the company.

“As you know we have applied and received the Government wage subsidy, and this is assisting to pay all staff during the lockdown, however with no sales since lockdown commenced, the company does not currently have the cash flow to fund trade creditors and rent payments,” Alexander said at the time.

The Herald has contacted Calibre Partners for further comment.

Since acquiring the local Starbucks business, Tahua has opened three new stores and undertaken a major refurbishment programme which will see all Starbucks refurbished by 2023.

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