Taco Bell is expanding. Picture: Claudia Baxter/AAP
Taco Bell is expanding. Picture: Claudia Baxter/AAP

Fast food giant’s Aussie invasion

MEXICAN fast food chain Taco Bell has announced a major expansion after the "tremendous" success of its first store in Queensland.

Listed restaurant operator Collins Foods, which has the rights to franchise in Australia, said Thursday it had entered into a development agreement with the US owner Yum! Brands to open more than 50 new Taco Bell locations across three states over the next three years.

Collins Foods opened its first Taco Bell location in Annerley, Brisbane last year and plans to open another three in Robina, Cleveland and North Lakes before the end of this year.

But the company was unable to provide the locations for the 50 stores to open between 2019 and 2021.

"We understand that there is a lot of excitement and interest about where the additional 50 Taco Bell restaurants will open, however we are unable to provide specific locations at this time," a spokesman said.

Collins Foods managing director Graham Maxwell said in a statement to the ASX, "We have seen tremendous enthusiasm for the Taco Bell brand in Australia, and this is reflected in the continued strong performance of our Annerley restaurant.

"We believe in the significant growth potential of Taco Bell, and are pleased to have strong confidence of Yum! Brands to grow Taco Bell's presence across Queensland and into other markets."

Collins Foods said the rollout would be funded from existing cashflows. The agreement gives it the right of first offer to establish new Taco Bell restaurants in the other states.

Taco Bell Asia Pacific managing director Ankush Tuli said there had been an "overwhelming response to the launch of Taco Bell in Brisbane, and we know that the Australian market is hungry for more".

"We can't wait to give our passionate fans in Australia the chance to enjoy Taco Bell in more cities across the country," he said in a statement.

It's the third time the California-based Tex-Mex chain has attempted to crack the Australian market. It first headed Down Under in the early 1980s but was sued out by a local restaurant with a similar name.

Taco Bell returned in 1997 with a number of stores but by 2005 had again exited the country. The chain will go up against the likes of Guzman y Gomez and Mad Mex, which went on the market in September.

Guzman y Gomez recently secured a $44 million investment from TDM Growth Partners, but The Australian reported it has struggled financially in recent years, posting a $1.6 million loss in 2017.

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