In recent week's, the US chain Smashburger announced plans to enter the UK market, joining other US outfits such as Five Guys and Shake Shack in seeing opportunity in the UK burger market.
We sat down with Smashburger to learn more about their plans for the UK, and why they think the increasingly competitive marketplace still offers so much potential.
QSR: What opportunity do you see in the UK market?
The United Kingdom is hungry for better burgers, and for restaurants that will bring their guests a brand with a story behind their food and premium quality ingredients that they can feel really good about eating.
QSR: Who do you see as your main competition in the UK?
Any of the better burger restaurants that are already present or plan to come. However, we really feel that our brand is highly differentiated from all of our competition and don't foresee other competitors as hindering our business.
QSR: What makes Smashburger different to the other gourmet burger chains already in the UK?
A few things really stand out about our brand that make us different from our other competitors like Five Guys and Shake Shack. The biggest one is our technique that we use to cook our burgers - our smashing process. We take a loosely packed meatball of fresh, never frozen Angus beef and smash it on a hot buttered grill to sear in the juices and lock in the flavor. The smash creates a sear on the bottom of the burger that locks in the burger juices, allowing the juices to cook up into the burger rather than out. It's really the new way to eat a burger. Secondly, our menu differentiation really allows us to stand out. Aside from innovative burger recipes, we also have grilled or crispy chicken sandwiches, fresh entrée salads, signature sides (like fries tossed in rosemary, olive oil and garlic or veggie frites- flash fried carrot sticks and green beans) and hand-spun shakes and a wide variety of kids meals. Lastly, our premium ingredients are key to making our food taste great. Here in the states, we serve Certified Angus Beef which is a premium cut of Angus beef that meets 10 quality standards in order to classify it as that name. We also serve butter toasted artisan buns, real cheeses, and a variety of toppings like fresh sliced avocado, sliced crimini mushrooms, sautéed onions, guacamole, etc.
QSR: You mention Smashburger offering value for money. What will the price point for your burgers be in the UK?
This is still undecided.
QSR: Will any menu tweaks be made for the UK market?
We also offer local items on the menu that are only available in that market. So, for the UK, we are working on developing a special local burger with regional tastes and flavours that are popular in the area. Again, this is still in progress but will be very special and unique to only the UK market.
QSR: Where are you planning to open your 35 stores in the UK?
We do not have our first location picked out yet, but should have that solidified in the next few weeks
QSR: When do you expect the first outlet to open?
Definitely before the end of the year. We are aiming for this summer, but that is all relative to construction and how quickly we can get started on that
QSR: Do you have plans to open in any other European countries?
Absolutely, we are always keeping our eyes out for markets that we feel Smashburger would do well in. I believe we are looking into Whales and Ireland at this time, but no movement has been made quite yet.
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