Burger King Worldwide has entered into a joint-venture agreement to develop its restaurant system in France, shortly after announcing a separate joint-venture deal to enter India.

The Miami-based quick-service company reached an agreement with Groupe Olivier Bertrand, a multiconcept operator with about 250 restaurants in France, and French private-equity firm Naxicap Partners, which will have a minority stake in the venture. As with Burger King’s previous deal in India, the joint venture in France holds a long-term master franchise and development agreement and the right to sub-franchise the market for all of France.

“France is one of the largest quick-service restaurant markets in Europe, and we have been waiting to find the perfect partner that shares our dream of growing our brand here in the right way,” Jose Cil, Burger King’s president of the Europe, Middle East and Africa division, said in a statement. “We found that with Olivier Bertrand and his restaurant group and team. Its reputation and savvy in the restaurant community in France is second to none.”

In a statement, group president Olivier Bertrand said his company’s goal for Burger King is a 20-percent share of the French quick-service market — which already is a major contributor to McDonald’s Corp.’s sales growth in Europe and a market where international players like KFC and Domino’s Pizza want to expand in the next few years.

“The nation’s enthusiasm for the unique taste and freshness of the Whopper sandwich and additional Burger King sandwiches is reflected in the success of the brand’s first new restaurant to re-enter the French market, which opened at the end of 2012,” Bertrand said.

Burger King’s same-store sales rose 2.4 percent in its Europe, Middle East and Africa segment for the Sept. 30-ended third quarter, during which its global same-store sales rose 0.9 percent. With 80 new units, the division accounted for more than half of Burger King’s 133 net restaurant openings worldwide in the third quarter.

During the company’s latest earnings call, Burger King officials noted that more than half of its worldwide new-unit growth in the past 12 months has come from emerging markets where the 99-percent-franchised company has joint-venture agreements with a master franchisor, including Brazil and China.

Chief executive Daniel Schwartz said during the call that the recently completed effort to refranchise all but 1 percent of the company-owned system would enable Burger King to expand rapidly in all of its operating areas around the world.

“Over the past two years, we’ve refranchised 1,000 restaurants around the world and fundamentally transformed our business model,” Schwartz said. “We remain confident that a fully franchised business model will allow us to accelerate growth, while maximizing value for franchisees and shareholders.”

At the close of the third quarter, Burger King had 13,259 restaurants worldwide, including 7,404 locations in the United States and Canada.

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
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