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Offering value amidst cost pressures, according to Hungry Jack’s CEO

Chris Green also expounds on the brand’s digital focus, the potential of targeting upselling and their new compensation model for managers.

Hungry Jack’s chief executive Chris Green is confident of a huge recovery despite “extreme” inflationary pressures sweeping the economy and post-flood pains in NSW and QLD, with its path to 700 domestic restaurants unchanged.

“No doubt, people have more savings than what they've ever had. People will be out and about more than they have in the past. So even though we've got some high inflation with potentially interest rates going up, I think the outlook is very positive,” he told QSR Media.

The QSR veteran, who has been with the fast food chain for over three years, specifically cited recovering losses from sites around CBDs, highways, airports and the early morning and late night dayparts.

“It’s all there to take back,” he said.

Hungry Jack’s was not immune to supply chain pressures after coping with the “initial shock” of Omicron surge earlier this year, with Green revealing the brand had to get its ordering and purchasing “in place as soon as possible” and even had to pull back on value and discounting.

“Equipment and anything [on] importing – the longer lead times were super critical,” he said. “It was a real challenge to make sure that we were in supply.”

“We've never moved stock so much within Australia over probably the last three to six months,” he continued. “This is probably some of the highest inflation that I've ever seen. It's more so around freight, potentially importing, definitely commodities and a little bit around wages as well. We're doing absolutely everything that we can do to minimize it, but at the same extent we need to pass through costs as they come through as well.”

For Green, the brand is endeavoring to “get that balance right” between minimizing said cost increases and trying to keep value at the forefront of their offer.

“Value means different things to different people; we've definitely moved a little bit away from individual value and more family value as the type of visits that we get have changed as well.”

Further focus on digital, dayparts
Green reaffirmed the chain’s plan to rollout self-order kiosks in-store, believing its customers are “more accepting” and hoping it would ease staffing pressures — along with digital menu boards for its renewed focus on getting a bigger bite in certain dayparts.

“When we go digital, we're able to go to three to five different dayparts. We can show snack items between two and five. Late at night, we can focus on larger burgers, and less snacky type items,” he said. “They do give us the ability to do targeted upselling or suggestive selling. In the future, they will be a lot more than just that.”

The chain is also allotting attention to their app, now seeing sales between 5 to 10%, Green said.

It recently launched a loyalty programme for Jack's Cafe, the latter of which Green expects to be fully rolled out across all 450-plus locations by June.

“The next stage after the rollout is making sure everyone knows; we're going to create awareness around it,” he said.

Green expects the restaurant brand to open somewhere between 25 and 30 sites over the next couple of years and remains confident they will get that closer to 40. They are also in the early stages of its Growth Mindset Partner programme, which Green explained as a “best in class” compensation model that incentivizes and remunerates restaurant managers to “think like an owner or think like a franchisee.”

“There's definitely a lot of work that's been done in the U.S. at Chick-fil-A on that [type of] programme, there are a couple of smaller chains that have done that but it's sort of like an untapped area in Australia,” he said.

They are also exploring additional items to add to their plant-based offer.

“There's nothing confirmed but definitely there are always options of plant-based nuggets or plant-based chicken. Our plant-based burgers are actually quite large so whether it's a smaller sized burger as well…we are looking at options to extend the range.”

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