CKE Restaurant Holdings CEO Jason Marker outside Carl’s Jr at Redbank Plains. Picture: Steve Pohlner/AAP
CKE Restaurant Holdings CEO Jason Marker outside Carl’s Jr at Redbank Plains. Picture: Steve Pohlner/AAP

Where burger giant is popping up next

QUEENSLAND'S population boom has been the catalyst for US fast food giant Carl's Jr investing heavily in the Sunshine State and muscling in on the other giants of takeaway burgers.

The chain's US chief executive Jason Marker said it had targeted the "growth corridors" as a way to rapidly establish itself in the quick-service-restaurant (QSR) market in southeast Queensland.

He said there was every reason to believe Carl's Jr could take McDonald's and Hungry Jack's head-on following the success of its first three stand-alone restaurants in Australia.

The outlets at Redbank Plains, Bateau Bay (NSW) and Kilburn (SA) cracked the top five for the best-performing stores globally in their first month of operation, Mr Marker said.

"It's a big industry and it's share-steal game and you have to be really good," he told The Courier-Mail.

"The exciting part is that the restaurants we have opened, the customers have voted with their feet."

 

CKE Restaurant Holdings CEO Jason Marker outside Carl’s Jr at Redbank Plains. Picture: Steve Pohlner/AAP
CKE Restaurant Holdings CEO Jason Marker outside Carl’s Jr at Redbank Plains. Picture: Steve Pohlner/AAP

 

In addition to the existing Redbank Plains restaurant and a kiosk at Brisbane Airport, Carl's Jr will open another eight outlets in southeast Queensland by the end of next year.

Their Pimpama and West Ipswich outlets are due to open in July, followed by Rothwell (August), Eagleby (September) and Hope Island (November) while Logan Hyperdome, Burpengary and Berrinba are set down for 2019.

There are also eateries earmarked to open in Rockhampton, Townsville and Toowoomba in the next 18 months.

"We see the potential for 60 restaurants in Queensland over time, and we will have 10 open here in the next 12 months," Marker said.

"These big growth corridors where you have new retail outlets, housing are just a fantastic and exciting opportunity.

"We evaluate traffic flows, growth corridors, and the retail development in general and the brand performs really well in drive through."

Mr Marker has a strong handle on Australia's way of life and the country's fast-food expectations.

Originally from New Zealand, the 47-year-old moved to Sydney in the mid-'90s where he established himself as the chief marketing officer of KFC and Pizza Hut before moving to the US.

 

Jason Marker shows off some of the menu items at Carl’s Jr. Picture: Darren Cartwright/AAP
Jason Marker shows off some of the menu items at Carl’s Jr. Picture: Darren Cartwright/AAP

 

He worked his way to president of KFC in the US before taking up the position of CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns the Carl's Jr, Hardee's, Green Burrito and Red Burrito fast food brands.

Mr Marker said while the chain's current and proposed locations were in the "burbs", it was not deliberately avoiding any head-to-head battles with McDonald's or Hungry Jack's.

"There are some big players in the QSR burger category in the US, but there are only two big ones here and we are perfectly positioned," he said.

"We find the best locations to go into, whether our competitors are there or not, and we do not shy away from that."

He said the chain had identified inner Brisbane, as well as Sydney, as key areas but was holding back until it had the ideal locations.

"We are very focused on who our franchisee partners are, what our strategy is and where want to develop but we are not dumping into Sydney right now," he said.

"We are still working on what partner will be there and we are very focused on development in Victoria, South Australia and Queensland."

In recent years, Carl's Jr has been heavily criticised for racy, sexist ads which featured celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Kate Upton, but not any more, said Mr Marker.

"That advertising campaign had a role once upon a time, but we will not be marketing the brand that way," he said.

"I wasn't here then, but we have already detoured and it's a very different strategy now."


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