With the better-burger category taking off in the U.S., and with its place solidified as one of the top players in the category, Smashburger announced its first deals for international units.
Development agreements were signed that will take the Denver-based chain to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait.
Dave Prokupek, chairman and CEO of Smashburger, says the company has been looking into international expansion for the last year, and that the time is ripe to take the successful burger company overseas.
“Our overall goal is to be the No. 1 brand in better burgers around the globe in the next 10 years,” Prokupek says. “The demand for burgers is generally very high around the globe, and the success of Smashburger—we’re in 30 markets here in the U.S., 120 stores—fairly well proved that at this point.”
A deal with multiunit operator Al Musbah Group—which also includes Sbarro, Carvel, Cinnabon, and Popeyes in its portfolio—calls for eight airport locations to open in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, a deal with development firm Georgetown Advisors will open six Smashburger units in Kuwait and three in Bahrain.
Prokupek says the deals will put Smashburger into some “high-traffic, high-acceptance” locations.
“The Middle East is one of those target areas where … their adoption of what I would call Western brands is quite high, whether it’s in food or fashion or jewelry,” he says.
“The better burger market is … just getting developed here in the United States, it’s not particularly well developed outside the United States. We see a bit of an advantage to start to expand in a smart way across the globe.”
Prokupek says Smashburger is also exploring expansion opportunities in Canada and the United Kingdom. Western Europe, Australia, South America, and Southeast Asia are other regions he says the brand would be interested in growing into.
“There’s definitely going to be an education process in many parts of the world about fast casual as a business model, as well as what it means to be a better-burger segment,” he says.
By Sam Oches