Q&A: Wendy’s international boss on the burger brand’s Aussie plans

Wendy's burger Aussie plans
Abigail Pringle heads up international development for the US burger brand. (Source: Supplied)

Wendy’s Burgers is ramping up its search for master franchisees in Australia, which was announced last year. The brand is 95 per cent franchised with more than 320 franchisees globally.

Here Abigail Pringle, the brand’s president, international and chief development officer, responds to Franchise Executives‘ Q&A.

7 questions with Wendy’s burgers’ international boss

FE: Why do you believe the Australian market needs a Wendy’s burger given our small population and highly competitive marketplace?

AP: Wendy’s is a challenger brand, and we believe there is space in the hamburger category to offer something different. We serve fresh, high-quality food at affordable prices that represent great value for money versus other players in the market. 

Wendy’s is committed to delivering high quality experiences in our restaurants, providing exceptional hospitality and friendly customer service.

We plan on using local ingredients sourced in Australia wherever possible. Plus, all menu items are made-to-order and customisable – nothing sits on a warming tray. 

Finally, we think our fun, cheeky brand personality that Wendy’s is famously known for will resonate with Aussies. 

FE: Can you clarify how the brand will be positioned in relation to McDonald’s, Hungry Jacks and Carls Jr.?

AP: Wendy’s will be positioned as comparable in quality to “better burger” brands, with pricing similar to traditional fast-food competitors. We believe we’ll be viewed as a high quality, affordable, everyday choice. 

Wendy’s burgers Aussie plans

FE: Will there be one or multiple master franchisees in Australia?

We’re in the early phases of the franchisee recruiting process in Australia, and actively connecting with prospective master franchise candidates. The outcome of these discussions will help inform the specifics of our franchising model for this market. 

FE: Where will Wendy’s look to locate restaurants as it expands across the eastern seaboard and beyond?
Wendy’s plans to enter the Australian market on the east coast, and the company is exploring major cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Ultimately, our brand footprint in Australia will be heavily influenced by our franchisee(s), tapping into their local perspective and expertise.

FE: What restaurant formats will be available in Australia? Will there be drive thrus and then hub and spoke models as elsewhere?

AP: Wendy’s has a wide range of traditional and non-traditional restaurant formats to fit any location or trade area with brick-and-mortar restaurants and in-line restaurants, to drive-thru only and container restaurants.

For example, our Global Next Gen restaurant design is our new standard. It harnesses the power of design and technology to streamline operations for restaurant teams, enabling them to deliver more Wendy’s to more people with an emphasis on convenience, speed and accuracy. 

How localised are menus and marketing campaigns?

AP: While remaining true to who we are at our core as a global brand, we also think very strategically about how we bring our global standards to life in different markets around the world – everything from our marketing campaigns to our menus.

We will use local consumer insights to inform and validate our menu offerings for this market, while staying true to our brand DNA of using fresh, honest ingredients.

For example, our franchisee in New Zealand has adapted some of our global concepts to local products that resonate with local consumers with a Hot Honey line-up and the BBQ Bacon Melt.

FE: What has been the key to Wendy’s growth in other overseas markets?

AP: We know our collective success depends on our franchisees’ success, and we support them at every turn. Our franchisees have access to a world-class Wendy’s team, both regionally, and located around the world, with proven expertise in functions across operations, marketing, finance, real estate, construction, and supply chain.

It is our goal to operate as a truly global brand which will maximize organisational efficiency and streamline decision-making. So we are taking a global approach across marketing and our digital organisation in order to more seamlessly share best practices and successful programs, which will provide even more support to our growing international business.

We also plan to align resources to further support development acceleration across the US and international segments.

These changes will position us to deliver a new gear of efficient, accelerated global growth.

Unit expansion is key to global growth

We firmly believe that global unit expansion is the key to unlocking and accelerating our growth. As we turn towards the future, we’ll have a disciplined approach on driving traditional restaurant growth.

Our Global Next Gen design enables restaurants to handle significantly more digital business than before. The digital business has great momentum as we head into 2023 and we expect meaningful growth in our digital channels over the next several years. Features like new mobile order parking and in-restaurant pick-up shelving, as well as a new dedicated delivery pick-up window, enable customers and delivery drivers to grab meals more quickly and conveniently.