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Burger Fuel opens new store in Saudi Arabia

Friday 21st October 2011

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Burger Fuel Worldwide, the local fast-food chain targeting growth in the Middle East, has opened its third store at the Amwaj Mall in Dhahran, a city which serves as the administrative hub for the Oil industry.

The burger chain, which went public in 2007, signed a master-licensing agreement with Saudi investment company Abdulla Fouad Group in 2009 that also covers Bahrain, and has now established in three major retail areas on the East Coast - Dhahran, Dammam and Al Khobar.

That’s the fourth Arab territory the chain has branched into since it began its expansion outside of Australasia. The most recent licensing agreement was made with Egyptian company Wadi Degla last month, following the sale of the rights to Burger Fuel Iraq in May, and the successful launch of stores in the United Arab Emirates last year.

By signing master licensing agreements, BurgerFuel earns up-front territory fees and on-going royalties based on store turnover.

When the company announced its Iraq deal, chief executive Joseph Roberts said the company was interested in all global territories, and sought to “take advantage of our non-American, pure New Zealand positioning, wherever we can.”

It’s focused on breaking into Middle East nations, and is part the Beachheads Global public-private partnership run by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, which provides tailored mentoring for high-growth local companies.

The shares trade infrequently on the NZAX market and, and changed hands yesterday at 51 cents, valuing the company at $27.3 million. When the company went public in 2007 it sold 15 million shares at NZ$1 apiece.

Roberts, a founding shareholder, obtained permission from shareholder to increase his stake in the company to 67 percent from 46 percent at last month’s annual meeting.

Co-founder Chris Mason is the other major shareholder, and collectively they have an 87 per cent holding through nominee company, Mason Roberts Holdings.

At the time, Burger Fuel said the deal was intended to recognise that it had not adequately paid Roberts as CEO.

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