Reaching maximum potential
First class ingredients, high-quality product development and the embrace of innovative technologies have come together to form the recipe for Max Burgers’ success and global expansion
Each year, ISI Wissing carries out its annual trademark survey where it analyses 250 different brands in Sweden. Using a scoring system and carried out across numerous customer groups, the survey’s results show that Max Burgers has the industry’s most satisfied customers. This is not a one-off result either, rather the most recent trademark survey represents the fifteenth year in a row that Max Burgers has topped the chart.
In addition to being Sweden’s favourite hamburger restaurant chain, it was also one of the first, with its first restaurant being opened by its founders, Curt Bergfors and Britta Fredriksson, in 1968. Almost 50 years later, Max Burgers has 122 restaurants, employing approximately 5400 people and bringing in an annual turnover of 300 million euros. Max is still a family owned business with Curt Bergfors as working chairman.
“We have had an excellent few years since we last spoke in 2010, expanding our reach across our home market of Sweden, entering new countries and growing the business by around 20 per cent year-on-year,” states Richard Bergfors, President of Max Burgers. “What we have seen during this time, in terms of drivers for growth, have been two key trends. The first of these is the continued demand for a premium brand that promotes higher quality and better tasting products, while the second has been the rapid rise of the vegetarian and vegan market. We have found more and more people are thinking about both their own health and the sustainability of the products they consume, and we have launched a range of menu items that have been embraced by this growing group of consumers.”
Already present in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the company has recently branched out into Egypt, and will open its first restaurant in Poland in September 2017 and later on in Qatar. “The markets we identify for growth are those that have proven to be successful for fast-food chains, but which will also benefit from the introduction of a premium product to fill such a gap,” Richard continues. “We believe we are approaching our maximum potential when it comes to our presence in Sweden, so our focus is very much on growing the brand internationally, particularly through franchising which has proven to be very successful for us in the Middle East.”
Wherever the company is based its menu quickly becomes recognised for the quality of the options available. “We never cut corners when it comes to quality and that is the reason why our products consistently win taste tests all over the world,” Richard says. “We work with only the best suppliers, developing our menu in partnership with them using the finest ingredients to create a range of food items that our customers truly appreciate.”
These returning customers will also have witnessed how Max Burgers has embraced technology and innovation in order to make their experience of visiting its restaurants more rewarding and enjoyable. “We were one of the first major chains to introduce touch screen ordering on a mass scale,” Richard explains. “We have recently launched our newest version of this system, while at the same time we have been working to redesign a number of our branches to ensure that customer flow is even more adapted to the growing digitalisation of the business.
“Today, well over 50 per cent of our customers do not actually visit a physical cashier when entering one of our branches, preferring instead to use one of our self-service kiosks or to order through the use of our app. Whereas in the past we would probably have had an average of eight-to-ten tellers in each restaurant, we now sometimes have as few as just two as more customers have become 50accustomed to ordering their meals for themselves, thus saving them time. It is for these reasons that we believe Max Burgers is at the head of the ever-evolving digital wave sweeping through our industry.”
As important as taste, quality and innovation are to the company, one of its other fundamental cornerstones is its commitment to being a socially responsible and environmentally conscious entity. “Sustainability has never been more important than now, neither for us, nor our guests,” Richard reveals. “Being on the cutting edge of this is one of the things we have always tried to achieve, going as far as becoming the only fast food chain in the world to climate label all of our products. We are also the only chain in our industry to make carbon offsets to one hundred per cent, for all emissions from the farmers’ land to our guest’s hand. We are doing it by capturing carbon through tree plantations in Africa.
“An extension of this has been the launch of the aforementioned vegetarian and vegan menus, our Green Family. As we saw more people switching from red meat to these alternatives we set ourselves the goal that one in every three meals we sell should be a non-red meat option by 2020. We have in fact already surpassed this target and as a result have reset our aim for one in every two products purchased to be an alternative to red meat by 2022, which we are confident we can achieve and maybe even surpass.”
For the 2016 financial year, Max Burgers posted record sales and with the first half of 2017 having furthered this trend, Richard expects 2017 to be another record breaking year. “It is not out of our reach to potentially double our business in the years to come,” he concludes. “One of the things we will be focusing on is looking at how we can take Max Burgers into new markets as we continue to expand. I believe that within the next five years our international presence will have grown considerably and may even be in a position to surpass our home market of Sweden in terms of returns.” D