NAMA REPORT: Five Guys Burgers and Fries plans for global expansion
March 21, 2014
by Joel Crews
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – The growing demand for high-quality burgers and fries, which is translating to global opportunities for one of the fastest-growing foodservice brands, was the topic of discussion at the opening general session at this year’s North American Meat Association’s Management Conference and Annual Meeting March 20.
Kicking off the event’s presentations was Mark Mosely, director of franchise development with Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Formerly an NFL place kicker for 16 years, Mosely was known for his unflappable consistency and his unique square-toed shoe and straight-on kicking style. He won the league’s MVP award in 1982, played in two Super Bowls —one in a winning effort, and retired from the Washington Redskins in 1986.
For the past 12 years, Mosely has helped make Five Guys one of the fastest-growing foodservice companies in the industry. Living on a 57-acre farm and having grown up a farm, Mosely said he feels a kinship with the processors who were in attendance and praised them for their commitment to an industry that is dependent on people who work hard and dedicate their lives to producing quality, safe food. He pointed out that it is the people that make the industry great and allow companies like Five Guys to flourish.
“The best are those that are willing to step up and be the leaders,” and be the person in any organization that sets the standard to which everyone else aspires, he said.
After retiring from football, Mosely started his own burger restaurant, Mosely Burgers, in Herndon, Va., with plans to franchise the business until his business partner surprisingly sold the company. That same day, Matt Murrell (one of the original “Five Guys” whose father started the company) came into Mosely’s restaurant and the two discussed the possibilities of franchising the Five Guys concept beyond the four locations the family ran at the time. Also on that same day, Mosely and Matt’s father, Jerry reached an agreement. “That was in November of 2002 and then we had four stores. Today, we have 1,200 stores open in 48 states and are growing by about 150 stores a year.”
With a limited menu of hamburgers, fries, hot dogs and Coca-Cola products, “We sell a lot of hamburgers,” he said, adding that there are no plans to add other items to the menu, save for the possibility of rolling out milkshakes in the future. He credited the suppliers of the company’s ground beef, and acknowledged Jamie Schweid ,executive vice president of sales at Burger Maker based in Carlstadt, NJ, as the first and longest-standing supplier to Five Guys, even before the franchising boom. “They are the ones that make it happen for us,” said Mosely, also giving a nod to Jensen Meat Co. and Wolverine Packing as other suppliers. The company’s brand equity has been ensured by the “high-quality, premium meat that we get and the security of knowing every time our meat goes out that it is safe,” Mosely said.
With Mosely growing franchises, Five Guys now has five stores open in London — the first of which was opened in downtown London on July 4, 2013. He said that first store’s sales are 20 times higher than the best-performing store in the US. It is on pace to register sales of more $10 million in its first year. International growth such as this requires the company to identify meat suppliers that could match that of what is available in the US, a two-and-a-half year process Mosely said their Burger Maker partners helped facilitate. While global expansion is the next frontier for Five Guys, and because franchise opportunities in the US markets are “sold out” with 2,500 new stores already sold but not yet built in the US market, Mosely said a challenge in growing internationally is accessing the quality of beef that is available in the US. He said in the next five years, Five Guys will open 600 to 700 stores globally, growing to over 1,000 locations by 2024. “Now that we are expanding into other markets internationally, that’s one of the big questions as we have: ‘How do we get this fresh beef-because our beef has never been frozen- how do we get it around the world?’”
Mosely and Five Guys Owner, Jerry Murrell are in the final stages of negotiating to open stores in the Middle East and he has recently had inquiries in Korea and beyond. “We have people waiting in almost every country in the world,” he said. “They’re waiting for Five Guys.”