Published in Spanish by Efectivo de Prensa Libre on March 1, 2022. By Urías Gamarro.
After a pause due to the effects of the pandemic, the Pollo Campero restaurant chain has begun an aggressive expansion project in the United States, and its plans for the next five years include 250 points of sale in the United States of America.
This is one of the most aggressive strategies that the Guatemalan-and-Salvadoran-capital company will develop in the United States. In 2022 it will be 20 years since it began operations in the U.S. market with 82 restaurants.
Luis Javier Rodas, executive director of Campero United States, stated in an interview with Prensa Libre that there is great growth potential, “and the cake must be eaten in small bites.” In this regard, he shared an analysis of what could be done in the future, as well as the potential for the next five years.
The executive stated that there is a potential to grow between 200 and 250 restaurants in the 2022-2026 plan in total, in that huge market, where the “idea is not to just open stores. The brand does not want to go everywhere”. The growth plan involves opening first the Corporation's own restaurants, but there will also be an aggressive component of franchised restaurants.
Pollo Campero's five-year growth program is 60% of self-owned stores and 40% franchises, which involves “a lot of focus”. Emphasis will be in regions where restaurants already exist, but mainly in California and Florida, as well as franchisees in Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.
Rodas recalled that opening a restaurant, starting from scratch, involves finding the location, negotiating rent, making construction plans, obtaining permits, then receiving bids for construction and building, until it opens to the public, which takes about 24 months.
For this reason, the process began a year and a half ago and, as of February 2022, around 30 locations for the Corporation's own restaurants have already been signed up and will be opening in coming months; others are expected to be ready in 2023.
“What started as a dream is now it is a reality, because when you sign a contract in the U.S., there are already rental commitments, and we are super excited to see that, so we have already started selling franchises,” he adds.
When the pandemic began, he explained, Pollo Campero decided to halt its expansion, especially in “pass-through sales” to wait to see how the situation would evolve. Sales were suspended for almost a year. But then, the effort was resumed and there are negotiations already under way.
“I have no doubt that the plan to reach 200 to 250 restaurants in the next five years, will be very successful,” he said. Campero USA has 1,200 employees, but with the franchises we will be 1,600.
COMPETE WITH QUALITY
Regarding the strategy, mission and goal of Campero in the U.S., Rodas stressed that the goal is to share the brand's unique flavor with as many consumers as possible and the restaurant is the means to do that.
The other consideration is that it is a service company that sells chicken, so it seeks to delight consumers as a company of Guatemalan and Salvadoran origin that can live up to and exceed the quality and level of service of the brands.
“We want to be a standard and benchmark for quality food and service in the U.S. restaurant industry, which is the dream. To achieve this, we need to reach many consumers, with a large number of stores. There is an existing structure, and we want to be more efficient and take advantage of the potential of each market in the future”, concluded Rodas.
MORE RESTAURANTS IN GUATEMALA AND EL SALVADOR
Ricardo Castillo, general director of Central American Restaurants for Corporación Multi lnversiones (CMI) spoke about the regional context, and said that Pollo Campero, in line with CMI Foods strategy, has a growth plan that comes from product innovation, but also takes into account the evolution of service channels through digital enablers.
“We plan to open eight restaurants in Guatemala and three in El Salvador during 2022,” he said.
Regarding the lessons learned from the pandemic, he pointed out that the first lesson was that keeping our hearts’ focus on our customers for many years has been the right decision. “That is why we were able to guarantee the safety and health of our associates, and also take care of our clients. Additionally, we learned that it was important that we were prepared, in terms of supply chain and crisis management protocols.
We also learned that moments of crisis do not mean that our investment efforts should stop, but that it is precisely the ideal opportunity to transfer confidence to the countries where we operate, through clear signs of growth and evolution”.
He added that the Company continued to operate with the parameters established by law in each country but, above all, biosafety protocols were implemented for consumers and for every associate.
Success in California
The Super Bowl was recently held at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, where hundreds of fans came to eat at the Pollo Campero restaurant located 100 meters away from the stadium. This was a clear success story for the company.