Burger chain touts fresh approach

JAZIAL CROSSLEY
Last updated 05:00 01/03/2013
Oporto chief executive Bhushan Arolkar tastes a Bondi Burger at the new Courtenay Place store on Thursday.
FULL FILLING: Oporto chief executive Bhushan Arolkar tastes a Bondi Burger at the new Courtenay Place store on Thursday.

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Burger chain Oporto opened its first Wellington branch yesterday, 12 years after entering the New Zealand market.

The Australian "fresh-not-frozen, grilled-not-fried" chicken fast-food operator is known for its signature dish the Bondi Burger with chilli sauce, grilled chicken fillets, cheese, mayonnaise and lettuce.

Master franchisee owner for New Zealand, Bhushan Arolkar, spent almost four years looking for a Wellington site before the owners of Courtenay Place dairy Paddy's Lotto decided to convert their store to an Oporto.

"Primarily the holdup was the site, we wanted to be absolutely at the heart of the city."

It is the 11th New Zealand Oporto, with 137 in Australia franchised directly from the brand owner Quick Service Restaurant Holdings, with which Arolkar has a business relationship. In December two more Oporto outlets were opened, in Hamilton and Manukau, with negotiations under way to open another two in Auckland this year.

Mumbai-born Arolkar, who previously worked for American Express and an investment bank, became a 50 per cent owner in the business in 2007 when it had six sites, only four of them profitable.

He wants to double its stores from 11 to 22 within three years.

"I came on board and things turned around, we got rid of the bad shops with expensive rent, then in late 2010 my wife and I bought it 100 per cent. We just renewed our licence to 2022 because it is something we believe in and have complete faith in, so that's what we've done."

Turnover last year for his New Zealand Oporto stores was about $10 million, with 830,000 customers served.

Setup costs for the franchisees at Courtenay Place were about $400,000 excluding GST to fit out the store in Oporto signage, furniture and kitchen equipment.

Except for its chilli sauce, The ingredients are all locally sourced.

Oporto Australasian general manager Troy McDonagh said its point of difference was that its foods were a fresh-to-order fast- food product.

"Positioning is more of a healthy proposition for the consumer, delivered in a vibrant store atmosphere, fresh cooked to order.

"The three main core lines are burgers, wraps and rolls. We do bundle offers [combo meals] like our competitors.

"From a pricing structure point of view, we're very aligned to the major players."

Its Bondi Burger costs $7.99 with or without chilli. At Burger King, the BK Chicken with cheese is $7.60, while the McDonald's seared chicken burger at its Courtenay Place branch was $8.20. The Burger Fuel's Basic Chick burger was $7.90.

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The first burger sold in Courtenay Place yesterday was a Bondi Burger, to a tourist visiting from Sydney. "Wellington is the food capital of New Zealand so service is very important," Arolkar said.

- Fairfax Media

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