Fried chicken market heats up as former hotelier leads $450 million investment in BirdShack | Business

American fried chicken franchise BirdShack, BirdShack’s signature bird on a weathervane, has flown to Jamaica, promising to kick off a new round of competition in the local fast-food market, particularly in the seemingly lucrative fried chicken segment now dominated by KFC. and Popeyes. Birmingham, Alabama-based BirdShack is being introduced in Jamaica by Arya Holdings Limited, the group’s reorganized holding company that also includes Arya Resort Management Company and is run by hospitality veteran Wayne Cummings. Arya Holdings has added a food subsidiary, Arya QSR Limited, as the vehicle to drive its entry into the quick service restaurant (QSR) business, one of the fastest growing business segments in Jamaica, with over 50 percent of the market estimated by the Food and Agriculture Organization will be controlled by US fast food franchises.

While the full value estimate of the local segment is not immediately known, the global fast food market was valued at close to US$700 billion in 2020 with projected growth of more than five percent through 2027.

Arya is committing some $450 million as proof of its commitment to secure its market share and build its business in the segment over the long term.

The agreement designating Arya QSR as the exclusive local operator of BirdShack Fried Chicken in Jamaica requires the local company to open a minimum of nine locations across the country by 2027. Cummings, the company’s CEO, is confident the new fast food business will consume the market share of other popular fast food establishments. These include KFC, Burger King, Popeyes, Quick Chick, Island Grill, Mother’s, Tastee, Juici Patties, Wendy’s, among others.

He is looking to increase the number of BirdShack stores to 15 over the next five years, with the first location slated for the Whitter Village shopping center on the busy tourist strip in Montego Bay’s affluent Ironshore suburb of St. James. With the store’s scheduled April opening just weeks away, a second location in Montego Bay’s bustling downtown business district is now being sought to activate before the end of the year.

“We weren’t going to do the second store this year, but we have a strong feeling that the market will respond well to the business. Then we’ll look outside of St. James for our next opportunity,” Cummings told the financial spike when talking about business plans.

Target locations are malls in the heart of each city to feature BirdShack-branded fried chicken.

“We want to be a mainstream brand, we really want to be right in the middle of pedestrian traffic. Our competition goes where there are footsteps and we have a similar vision”, said the CEO of Arya Holdings.

At a minimum, the 15 locations are expected to cost Arya QSR $450 million to build, or $30 million per location. Cummings did not discuss how quickly the company will be able to recoup its investment, but said BirdShack will enter the market at similar prices to its competition.

The quick service restaurant has six menu options, most of which are served with French fries.

“We’ll also have a chicken sandwich, possibly two, but we’ll start with an original sandwich,” Cummings said of the food offering.

Arya QSR is working with BirdShack LLC’s Jamaica-area developers, CookSmart Equipment and Supplies Limited, to refine the Cajun-style recipe before it hits the market. The first restaurant is expected to employ about 20 people.

Arya QSR is the second company formed under the banner of Arya Holdings Jamaica Limited. The other, Arya Resorts Management Company Limited, a tourism and hospitality consultancy, launched in the last quarter of 2020.

Its main activity is the provision of hotel consulting services that include the management of hotel and tourist properties, changes of ownership, quality of service and audits aligned with regulations, training and hiring of team members and management of the hotel supply chain. .

Cummings, a veteran of more than 30 years in the hospitality industry, is the CEO of Arya Resorts Management, while another seasoned operator in the industry, COO Robert Headley, will take on the lead role at Arya QSR. The business also includes Omar Robinson, who also has a background in tourism management. Cummings and Robinson are former presidents of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association.

karena.bennett@gleanerjm.com

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