Middle East drives Burger Fuel growth

23:57, Aug 14 2013

Burger Fuel plans to expand its presence across the Tasman despite Australia's slowing economic growth.

Burger Fuel chairman Peter Brook said Australia had not been the company's primary focus for expansion in the past, but it was looking to boost its presence there after an encouraging lift in sales.

The burger franchise's unaudited full-year results to March 31 showed Australian sales were up 6 per cent to a still relatively modest $1.2 million at its Sydney store, which opened six years ago.

Chief executive Josef Roberts said the company had had a growing number of inquiries from potential franchisees despite the economic slowdown in Australia.

Australia's gross domestic product grew just 0.6 per cent in the first quarter of this year, slightly below market expectations and average GDP growth of 0.88 per cent.

Roberts said the weaker Australian economy presented better opportunities in the real estate area in particular.

"The down time is a good time for us to get set up," he said.

The company's results showed total unaudited sales were up just over 29 per cent to $49.3m in the past year.

Sales growth was led by the Middle East, up 94 per cent to $16.7m, with 13 stores in the region, and plans to open a store in Cairo, Egypt, this year.

New Zealand was still the main earner, generating more than $31.3m in sales revenue during the past year, up 10.4 per cent on the previous year.

Four more stores had opened in New Zealand in the past year, bringing the total to 30.

The NZAX-listed burger franchise reported a net profit after tax of nearly $1.1m for the year, a 55 per cent rise from last year's $708,360.

The company's net revenue was up $2.4m to $12m, a 25.4 per cent increase.

Total expenses were $10.7m for the past year, including just over $200,000 in tax.

Burger Fuel Worldwide's share price rose 77.6 per cent in the past year, with shares currently trading at $1.55.

No dividend was declared. Brook said the decision not to pay a dividend was to ensure the company could continue to build and maintain adequate cash reserves for further investment in the business.