We are not going to hate on Taco Bell's global ambitions, but we will point out that it's a long way from being a novelty hit with beer and margaritas to the type of growth it was once used to in the U.S.
— Jason Clampet
Taco Bell, increasingly focused on global growth amid a saturated U.S. market, is expanding Down Under.
In November, the chain opened its first Australian restaurant in Brisbane, and it has exceeded management’s expectations, said Liz Williams, president of Taco Bell International. Sales are several million dollars higher than a typical unit, she said, declining to provide specifics. Now, Taco Bell is working with the franchisee to speed expansion in Australia.
“We’re talking to them about some pretty explosive growth,” Williams said in an interview. “It’s going to be a top market for us.”
Taco Bell is looking abroad for growth as U.S. restaurants fight for market share with steep discounts and new, indulgent foods. This year, the Yum! Brands Inc.-owned chain will open between 90 and 100 net new stores outside the U.S., compared with 77 last year, Williams said. Other targets for expansion include Brazil, India, Canada and the U.K.
Industrywide, restaurant traffic in the U.S. was unchanged last year from 2016, according to researcher NPD Group. Still, Taco Bell managed to opened 237 new stores in its home market last year.
In Australia, Taco Bell sells California burritos, quesadillas and nachos, along with beer and margaritas. It also offers fries smothered in nacho toppings including sour cream, salsa and meat. The website describes the item as “Perfect for sharing with your mates…or keeping all to yourself.”
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