Restaurant chain: Fatburger decides to taste the local market

Published: June 20, 2012

Fatburger – Santa Monica, California-based fast-food chain – is the latest one to announce its intentions to take a bite out of the local food market.

KARACHI: 

The fast-food and restaurant market in Pakistan has reached a threshold where it may be recognised as a driving force for new investments. The billion dollar market of Pakistan isn’t only seeing growth of local food outlets but also attracting international food chains.

Fatburger – Santa Monica, California-based fast-food chain – is the latest one to announce its intentions to take a bite out of the local food market. One of fastest growing food chains around the world, Fatburger will be introduced in Pakistan soon by BIL Foods Ltd, a subsidiary of Dubai-based BIL Investments that owns a chain of restaurants and a chemical company.

Fatburger will join the likes of McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, Hardee’s and OPTP that are already operating in the country. Not to mention hundreds of local restaurants and fast-food outlets opening each year to meet the growing demand.

According to industry sources, around 50 new food outlets were due to be operational during the last couple of months in Defence and Clifton areas of Karachi alone. Of those 50 some places, many have already opened while others are in the pipeline, sources said.

The list does not only include restaurants and fast-food chains but also cafes, bakeries and specialty food outlets, the source added.

The growth of the food business has even created a secondary market for young entrepreneurs as many online food portals have opened up and are doing well financially.

While there is no official data available about the size of this market, a conservative study of some 25,000 food centres by Food Connection Pakistan – an online food portal – found that Pakistanis spend at least Rs90 billion ($1 billion) on dining out every year.

“I believe, food is the only entertainment in Pakistan so far,” BIL Foods CEO Samiullah Mohabbat said while sharing his views about international food chains’ interest in Pakistan – in an email to The Express Tribune.

There is still a huge gap for international food chains to enter in the Pakistani market, Mohabbat said.

Referring to the benefits of doing business in Pakistan, the CEO said Pakistan has a strong human resource; English speaking workforce, cost-effective managers and technical workers. Besides, he added, it has a large and growing domestic market.

There are about 180 million consumers with rising incomes, he said, and a growing middle-class moving to sophisticated consumption habits – making it a strong emerging market.

Explaining what attracted BIL Investments towards Pakistan, he said good quality telecommunications and IT services, comprehensive road, rail and sea links, long-standing corporate culture in Pakistan make the country an attractive market for investment.

He further said that Pakistan’s strategic location makes it a regional hub and principal gateway to the Central Asia republics. The country has a long-standing link with the Middle East and South Asia and provides comprehensive duty-free facilities to the investors.

Excited about launching Fatburger’s first franchise in the country, Mohabbat hinted for more investments in the local food market.

“We are passionate about international franchising and seeing as there are flourishing opportunities present in the country,” Mohabbat said. “BIL Foods is striving to bring the highest quality of international brands to Pakistan and you will witness more of our endeavours in the near future,” he added.

BIL Foods will be opening five restaurants in three years, according to Mohabbat, and further development agreement would be signed after that period. Fatburger will follow Hardee’s example and open its first franchise on MM Alam Road, Lahore followed by Dolmen City Mall, Karachi. Mohabbat did not mention any exact dates.

Fatburger has over 95 locations in the US. In addition to its California roots, Fatburger has a strong presence across America. The fast-food chain has its franchises in Canada, Dubai, Hong Kong, Macao, Beijing, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jakarta. Pakistan will be the latest addition to its portfolio.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • AM
    Jun 20, 2012 - 6:00AM

    OPTP is local

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  • HH
    Jun 20, 2012 - 8:49AM

    Good news! Indeed dining out is the only entertainment in Pakistan;

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  • Saqib
    Jun 20, 2012 - 9:17AM

    Its is sooo expensive, here in Dubai a normal Beef Burger cost 50 Dirham (1500PKR), are they planning to sell on same rate ?? :S

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  • yellow
    Jun 20, 2012 - 9:25AM

    Will it be opening in Lahore or Karachi ?

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  • saud
    Jun 20, 2012 - 9:32AM

    the only thing we learnt from US is to eat and get fatter..Fat Burger is not famous in California…even in Santa Monica…I lived there for 22 years…however In-n-out is a king of all burger chains in California…anybody investing in that venture is like hitting a jackpot..

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  • sigma
    Jun 20, 2012 - 10:29AM

    @yellow:Both in Lahore & Karachi,
    @Saqib: I expect they will range in PKR 500-700+,following model of McD & hardees.
    But is fast food sustainable in long-run, I doubt.!

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  • 1234
    Jun 20, 2012 - 10:55AM

    No one here has heard of “Fatburger” (probably the worst name ever) but everyone will I’m sure be excited to hear the news anyway; because its from Santa Monica, California, ooooh.

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  • Riaz Khan
    Jun 20, 2012 - 11:44AM

    Never heard of Fatburger, although living in Texas since 25 years! By saying that they are international brands they keep fooling Pakistanis.

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  • Mishy
    Jun 20, 2012 - 11:51AM

    Really?
    Is Fatburger opening in Lahore?? My friends went to FatBurger in Dubai and were really appreciating the taste and the huge size. I hope taste remains the same.. :)

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  • Wayne
    Jun 20, 2012 - 12:05PM

    In America rich people like to European and Asian food because they thinks it’s classy and they think fast food is cheap and trashy.

    In Pakistan rich love American fast food because they think it’s classy.

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  • Adnan Khan
    Jun 20, 2012 - 12:22PM

    When in Pakistan Hardees can become over successful.. I guess anything can thing Food venture could be successful with Foreign Thappa.. In Dubai Hardees Exist but I have never ever seen more than one or two customers in the que. You’ll see rush at Mcdonalds and KFC.. Hardees is not even close to that.. I’ve been living here for past 5 years once I tried Hardees and that was a regret. However Fatburger has created a good market here knowing it comes in premium burger category.. Thumbs up should be a success but price would not be really friendly as KFC or Mcdonalds.

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  • Ali Khan
    Jun 20, 2012 - 12:58PM

    Please, dont ever think about eating from this food chain… tasteless burgers, and way too expensive!

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  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Jun 20, 2012 - 12:59PM

    Look at the positive side, they are being pretty honest with their name!

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  • current
    Jun 20, 2012 - 1:21PM

    all the above fools who say they havent heard of fat burger… they need to get out more often or maybe move out of the ghetto where they are living… its an international brand .. so much so that it even opened up in dubai a while back!.. and Its not the same price range as MC Donald.. the cheapest burger is almost 35 dhs (875 PK RS).. Only burger, not chips or drinks..I dont think the public will spend such money.. or else TGI Fridays wouldnt have left and CHillis would have come along time ago.. Burger King is a better suited option for the public.

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  • FF
    Jun 20, 2012 - 1:30PM

    It will open its first franchise on MM Alam Road, Lahore followed by Dolmen City Mall, Karachi.

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  • curious
    Jun 20, 2012 - 1:57PM

    What a name, Fatburger. Just make the rich who can afford it fatter and resemble that Fatburger physically. Great news for fatties who love food!

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  • Mishy
    Jun 20, 2012 - 3:14PM

    @Yuri Kondratyuk: That was such a cute and funny reply..:)

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  • Kiran
    Jun 20, 2012 - 3:36PM

    Burger King is the best and it still hasn’t come to Pakistan

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  • Miss
    Jun 20, 2012 - 4:10PM

    YUMMY! So finally women will have access to some lean beef in Pakistan too.. So finally something healthy fast food is coming to Pak… Good Go FATBURGER!

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  • Dr Dong
    Jun 20, 2012 - 6:42PM

    keep on eating foreign foods and local recipes will disappear …A classy chain serving Kashmiri basic foods is needed in Pakistan…light oil and easy on spice …

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  • Saeed
    Jun 20, 2012 - 7:01PM

    @saqib what kind of beef burger you eat in 50 dharams. Are you serious. The best beef burgers in the town are of wendys and burger king and a combo meal is not more then 25 dharams. And that is the bigest one.

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  • saqib
    Jun 20, 2012 - 7:10PM

    Dear Saeed, read the column, here we talking about “fatburgers”, they dont have any burger less than 50 dirhams, go and check the menu at any branch. :)

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  • Bruce
    Jun 20, 2012 - 9:53PM

    @Riaz Khan:
    There are many fast food restaurants in America that is regional.

    I live Texas as well, and I never heard about Hardees before I visited Pakistan, but I later found out that it is popular in the midwestern part of America.

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  • Jun 23, 2012 - 5:34AM

    Yet another cultural export of the United States being lapped up by the anti-American crowd in Pakistan. I’d remind them that Sesame Street is far more benign than other American exports like sugared drinks, unhealthy fast food and Hollywood which have been corrupting the mind, body and spirit of many Pakistanis.

    http://www.riazhaq.com/2012/06/us-afpak-puppets-corruption-on-sesame.html

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  • elahi
    Jul 8, 2012 - 2:18AM

    Here is the good news: JOHNNY ROCKET is getting ready to enter the Pakistani market.

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  • Tariq
    Jul 8, 2012 - 4:36AM

    Forget Far Burger, when is Shake Shack coming to Karachi?! Their burgers are the best!

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  • Murtaza
    Jul 19, 2012 - 11:39AM

    Great Induction of Food chain In
    Variety in pakistan!!!!!! very potential Market :)
    Good Luck Mr Samiullah Mohabbat !!!

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  • Bilal
    Jul 27, 2012 - 6:24AM

    Fat burger would be a good addition but Pakistani Market is fully captured by McDonalds. But McDonalds has very much less branches in Lhr

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  • Ali Naqvi
    Jul 27, 2012 - 9:06PM

    How can i apply in this? i have a 14 years Experience in Fast Food multinational Chain.

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  • namrah
    Jul 27, 2012 - 10:19PM

    i love fatburger! waiting for its launch! but yeah would be sort of expensive compared to the other fast food chains here

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  • namrah
    Jul 27, 2012 - 10:20PM

    @Adnan Khan:
    yeah i agree , i was in kuwait and nobody ever bothered about hardees !
    it was a fail in the middle east ! and people are head over heels about it here ! but fatburger is good for sure !

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  • namrah
    Jul 27, 2012 - 10:22PM

    @current:
    burger king is still higher priced than mcdonalds or hardees as far as i remember and people will spend on fatburger if they open in lahore

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