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Hamburgers flooding Czech towns

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A hamburger in one hand and a plastic cup of coffee or Coke in the other – this is what a “typical” Czech could look like soon. International fast food chains see increasing potential in the Czech Republic and are expanding their networks here quickly. On Tuesday, the US chain Burger King entered the Czech market, where two companies have dominated – McDonald’s and KFC.

Burger King (BK) opened its first Czech restaurant in Prague’s shopping centre Zličín, and wants to expand to other large towns in the future.

“We believe that the Czech Republic is an attractive market with excellent growth potential for the Burger King brand,” said Thomas Berger, vice-president of BK central European division.

The company does not disclose the number of restaurants it wants to operate in the Czech Republic, but its plan on the European market is clear – to become a dominant player.

Differences at a second look

McDonald’s has been an unshakable market leader in the Czech Republic. Its more than seventy outlets in the country recorded 53 million customers last year who spent CZK 3.2 billion there.

Except for the shop sign, the Burger King restaurant does not differ much from those of its rival McDonald’s. Deep fryers, cash registers, and even the prices on menus and drinks are very similar. Moreover, both restaurants in the shopping centre Zličín are situated almost next to each other.

“But Burger King is different for its typical and unmistakable smoky taste,” said Brian Johnston of Burger King Europe. BK offers flame-grilled products, unlike the fried hamburgers that its competitors sell.

BK restaurants in the Czech Republic are operated by the Polish company AmRest, which also has a license for KFC. “But I don’t think that these two restaurants would compete against one another,” said Daniel Kasper, president of the BK division in AmRest.

AmRest is the biggest independent restaurant operator in central and eastern Europe. On the Czech market, it also includes the coffee chain Starbucks. Starbucks also perceives the Czech Republic as a country with huge potential. It has opened six cafes here, all of them in Prague.

New York Pizza eyeing Prague

There are nearly 13,000 fast food restaurants and stands in the Czech Republic. A study by Incoma Research has revealed that expenditures on eating out account for about 20% of all spending on food in Czech households.

Apart from McDonald’s and KFC, another chain establishing itself on the Czech market is Subway, offering mainly sandwiches.

However, competition on the Czech market could soon be even more intense, for another US fastfood chain, New York Pizza, is eyeing the country. Susan P. McDaniel, in charge of franchising at New York Pizza, told HN recently that the company wants to have a franchise here.

The list of possible market entries also includes the chains Wendy’s, famous abroad for its “home-made” hamburgers, as well as Hardie’s and Carl JR. The fastfood chain Pizza Hut is also searching for partners for international expansion. AmRest has a license to operate it in Poland. However, it is not clear yet whether it would bring it to the Czech Republic like it has brought Burger King.

Translated with permission by the Prague Daily Monitor.

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