FRANCHISING | Staff Reporter, Australia

Hog's CEO: There are no plans for the brand to close

Read his full statement here.

Hog’s Breath CEO Ross Worth has issued a statement in response to a article, which detailed grievances from franchisees, resulting from a string of closures, bankruptcies and allegations of mismanagement:

There are a lot of emotions involved for all parties when a business closes and our first priority is always the health and wellbeing of our people and the impact that closures have on everyone involved, from the owners and their family, to staff members and suppliers, not to mention our customers. We do whatever we can to provide support to all parties during this difficult time.

Whilst we may unfortunately see some additional closures in future, we reopened our Glenelg restaurant in Adelaide last week and are working to reopen our Maitland restaurant on the NSW coast which recently closed. We have no plans in the future to close the operation of the Hog’s brand, and our focus is to continue to support our franchise community whilst ensuring the Hog’s brand is best positioned to deliver on our customers’ needs.

We want all of our franchisees to succeed and work very hard to provide them with the resources to do so, including a business coach, full financial and cost control advice, human resources, comprehensive marketing plans, ongoing training, and much more. Our franchisees and representative franchise bodies are involved in any major changes or decisions made as a brand, such as menu changes, offers and promotions. Most franchisees have embraced our new initiatives and are running good operations with the support of our dedicated head office team and the systems we have in place to help them succeed.

To say that restaurant closures can’t be blamed on a downturn in the economy is contrary to every report that I’ve read over the past 18 months. It’s unquestionably the toughest environment we’ve seen in our thirty year history. In addition to a decrease in spending, we’ve also had to adapt to completely new customer eating habits with the arrival of food delivery services and meal kits.

We are also experiencing increases in operational costs with rising wages, raw food costs, rent and electricity. We work very closely to support our franchisees in managing these costs, for example we have partnered with Energy Alliance to reduce electricity costs in over 10 restaurants saving them thousands of dollars. We work with individual landlords in negotiating rent reductions where we can, and just recently the landlord in Glenelg agreed to cover significant renovations to the restaurant before it reopened.

Whilst the Quick Service Industry is seeing growth, the Dine-In Restaurant sector has experienced 10 consecutive quarters of decline. Of course this is sadly going to impact on some of our restaurants, as it has impacted on many across the country, including several high profile closures from leading celebrity chefs and operators. There has also been widespread media coverage to the same effect from national publications.

One of our focuses to drive growth is to explore other ventures to answer different customer demands and diversify our offering. At one point, this was looking at brand offerings in different categories, however these brands were supported by brand-specific personnel. As mentioned, our focus at Hog’s is supporting our franchisees, and delivering on the customer promise. This has led to a number of new initiatives such as delivery, order at table tablets, the automation and diversification of our loyalty program and continued menu development. Each of these initiatives has been communicated to franchisees and worked on with input from the franchising community to deliver a result appealing to our customers and franchisees, ensuring transparency.

All of that being said, we are not in a position to comment on conversations we have had regarding legal matters or franchising agreements with individual franchisees.

On a personal note, I pride myself on the unique culture we have developed at Hog’s, with our customers, our franchisees, our support office staff and our suppliers. Over the past 30 years of operation, we have built a fun and relaxed atmosphere and I am disappointed to hear that there have been allegations to the contrary. I personally, and we as a brand, take these types of claims very seriously and in any instance where allegations like this are made they are investigated and dealt with confidentiality.

We’ll continue to focus on supporting our franchisees and delivering good food and good times across all of our restaurants.

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