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Chief operating officer Jim Schmidt said international expansion over the next decade could add 400 locations to Buffalo Wild Wings’ goal of a 3,000-unit enterprise.

“The timing is right for our brand internationally for several reasons,” Schmidt said. “International markets are primed for development due to the rapid growth of the middle class around the world, unlike even 10 years ago. Consumers around the world are tech-savvy and tech-hungry. Third, we can take advantage of the momentum of our domestic business, and potential partners around the world think our guest experience is transferrable to other countries.”

Currently, five franchisees have agreements for 45 locations in Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines.

Buffalo Wild Wings is scouting locations for India, South Korea and Vietnam, Schmidt said, and while Brazil and China are on the radar, developing those markets might be a few years further out.

Making marketing more local

As executives have covered in prior earnings calls, the chain’s marketing around sports received a major boost from last year’s announcement to partner with PepsiCo. Along with a new beverage contract, the Pepsi deal also gave Buffalo Wild Wings access to some of the vendor’s marketing partners, notably the National Football League.

“The Pepsi partnership extends our presence with national sports, because while we don’t sponsor the NFL, Pepsi does,” said Judy Shoulak, executive vice president of North American operations. “Before the ink was even dry, the Pepsi partnership was adding value. … We’ll rely heavily on the use of Pepsi’s NFL assets.”

Through new ties to the NFL and its existing partnership with the NCAA, Buffalo Wild Wings also hopes to make its sports marketing more local, Shoulak added. Pepsi’s sponsorship of individual NFL teams might create in-store opportunities with popular local players, for instance, she said. Also, with championship tournaments for 89 sports every year that involve teams from around the country, the NCAA partnership could provide more such opportunities, she said.

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN