14 Apr 2020

Owners of fast food chain Burger King go into receivership

4:37 pm on 14 April 2020

The owners of the Burger King franchise in New Zealand have been placed in receivership owing more than $65 million.

Burger King signage

Burger King signage Photo: RNZ / Calvin Samuel

Receivers, KordaMentha, said the fast food chain which has more than 80 outlets around the country had been significantly affected by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Brendon Gibson, partner at KordaMentha, said it was seeking support from suppliers and landlords to restart the business when the lockdown lifted.

"The ultimate aim of the receivership is to get the business restarted post-lockdown and then transition the business to a new owner through a sales process."

He said financiers and the master franchise operator, Burger King Asia Pacific, supported this process.

The parent companies in receivership are Tango Finance, Tango NZ and Antares NZ, but the operating company, also called Antares, was not in receivership and could continue to trade.

Work and Income data showed Antares NZ had received about $11.5 million from the government wage subsidy scheme.

Gibson said the wage subsidy would be critical in making it possible to reopen the restaurants when the lockdown lifted.

"It is not an easy situation for staff," he said.

"The operating business has got the wage subsidy so they will continue to be paid while we are in lockdown."

He said the companies were put in receivership, with the support of the creditors.

Unite Union national secretary Gerard Hehir said the responsibility for the receivership was with its owners.

"Now they are just going to walk away, leaving employees, banks and suppliers to suffer the consequences. If there are job losses and business failures then, of course, taxpayers will be also have to pay as well."

Hehir said it was likely that fast food chains would bounce back strongly after the lockdown.

"Especially as the majority of the business has been drive-through and takeaway for some time, more suited to prolonged social distancing rules than almost any other food supplier. "

One of the country's biggest fast food operators, Restaurant Brands, which operates the KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Carl's Junior Burgers chains, has received $21.8m in wage subsidies.

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