Moe’s Southwest Grill has entered an international development deal to open 50 locations in Russia. The first unit is scheduled to open this year in Moscow.
Moe’s Russian franchisee, Glaventer Investments Ltd., has agreed to open the restaurants over the next 10 years. Moe’s currently has more than 400 fast-casual restaurants.
“I’m confident that Moe’s will thrive in Russia,” said brand president Paul Damico, “especially after research through Aurelian Global Holdings revealed a great opportunity for consistent growth over the next 10 years in the Russian fast-casual segment.”
Several U.S. restaurant brands are bullish about expansion opportunities in Russia, including Yum! Brands Inc., McDonald’s and Wendy’s.
Yum entered the country only a few years ago by co-branding KFC locations within outlets of Rostik’s, a Russian fried-chain. Yum bought out Rostik’s and now is converting all co-branded locations into KFC restaurants. During Yum’s investor conference late last year, chief executive David Novak said some of the first full KFC units to open in Siberia are generating average unit volumes of $1.4 million.
“We have 150 units in Russia with great margins, and we haven’t even begun to do this brand right,” Novak said.
McDonald’s entered Russia in 1991, and that country has been a significant, consistent contributor to same-store sales growth in the company’s European division. The chain has more than 240 units in Russia, while Burger King opened its first location in that country in 2010.
Wendy’s opened its first Russian location last June in the Arbat District of Moscow. The brand’s franchisee, Wenrus Restaurant Group, has said it plans to open 180 locations in the Russian Federation over the next 10 years.
Moe’s expansion into Russia marks its second push into an international market. The chain signed a deal last year to develop as many as 40 restaurants in. Moe’s said it would leverage the international growth infrastructure of its parent company, Focus Brands, which also franchises Carvel, Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and Schlotzsky’s locations.
Atlanta-based Moe’s operates in 34 states.