In Focus
FRANCHISING | Staff Reporter, Australia

Origin Kebabs calls for merger deal with competitors

It has already merged with ISPA Kebabs.

Queensland-based QSR, Origin Kebabs, has recently entered a merger deal with ISPA Kebabs. The merger hopes to expand the growth of brand and also strengthen its identity. The brand's aim is to reach a total of 50 stores by the end of 2013.

Below is a Q&A with Burhan Goktas, Marketing Manager of Origin Kebabs.

QSR Media: How did your brand start?

Burhan: It's actually quite a funny story. Ali Engin (Founder) was working in a kebab shop in Sydney back in 1988. He managed to save enough money and decided to move to QLD. An opportunity popped up at Hyperdome Shopping Centre in Loganholme. With limited English, Ali couldn't come up with a name. Only words he really knew were service related questions.

Whilst roaming the centre. Ali noticed there was this kind of buzz in and around centre. People everywhere wore Maroon shirts and very few blue shirts. Ali was baffled at how electrified people were. With what little English he had, Ali managed to ask a person wearing a Maroon shirt what all the fuss was. (Probably not in those words) The supporter attempted to explain to Ali that it was about a monumental event called the State of Origin and how everyone just loves it. Especially QLD'ers.

So he thought to himself… That's it! Origin Kebabs!! Everyone will love it! True story!

QSR Media: What kind of customers does your brand cater to?

Burhan: So as not to upset any segment of the market and get inundated with hate mail… Everyone. Although, kids are a little less likely to be regular customers.

QSR Media: What key business philosophies does your brand believe in?

Burhan: Quality product and quick service is key. Staying focused on customer needs and being responsive to change.

Power of design. With limited marketing budget. We have focused on vibrant corporate ID. This plays a significant role in our branding exercise and will continue to evolve the designs that are both practical and aesthetically striking.

QSR Media: How has the brand progressed since it first started?

Burhan: Back in late 1980-90's the product was relatively unknown, particularly in QLD. The Brand and store designs were created with a Mediterranean character to give the product its authenticity. As the years progressed, so did the product. Originally the kebab only offered lettuce onions, tomato and sauce. These days, customers are offered numerous options and is no longer perceived to be the so-called authentic kebab. It truly has developed into a product almost exclusive to Australians. So as the product developed, so did our corporate Identity.

QSR Media: What are recent developments that the brand has come up with?

Burhan: It’s somewhat difficult to expand the number of stores, with 'new' sites. Origin Kebabs recently merged with ISPA Kebabs in WA QLD and NSW. The strategy behind the merger is to roll out the Origin brand with these stores and bring them in line with our systems.

QSR Media: What does the brand aim to achieve this year?

Burhan: So far we have opened 3 new stores and 4 currently in construction. We are expecting to refurbish 10 ISPA branded stores by the end of the calendar year. So in total we will have 44 Origin branded stores. Our target is 50 stores by year’s end.

QSR Media: What will be your strategy in attaining these goals?

Burhan: Fortunately we have more potential franchisees than we have available stores. We are currently in negotiations with 10 potential sites. However, it’s a constant battle to find good convenient sites with reasonable rents that are going to work. Seems, there are plenty of sites that would site independent operators. We will continue talking with all new and existing landlords.

QSR Media: Any other comments?

Burhan: I think, and I have put this out before so Ill say it again. Ultimately the three biggest brands in the kebab market need to get to the table and discuss a possible merger. Ali Baba, Sunshine Kebab, and Origin Kebabs should begin talks to make this happen. All three brands have grown to a level where we now have an opportunity to take on the big American chains. We're open to discussion.

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