BK competes against Australian franchisee

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SYDNEY -- A bunfight is beefing up between U.S. fast food giant Burger King and its Australian franchisee Hungry Jack's with the opening of four Burger King stores in Sydney this week and the promise of 40 more across Australia within the next 12 months, representing an investment of about $40 million.

Jack Cowan, for 26 years a Burger King franchisee with 150 Hungry Jack's stores, and Burger King are engaged in a bitter feud over Burger King's campaign to dump the Hungry Jack's name. That name has been used since 1971 because at that time the name Burger King was registered to an owner who would not sell.

David Chapman, Burger King Asia Pacific president, says the name change is because "the Burger King brand is our strongest weapon in our battle with McDonald's around the world. We believe we are more likely to attract customers from McDonald's this way".

But Mr. Cowan disagrees: "From our research, we feel the Australian public prefer to identify with an Australian brand." He is angry that Burger King bought a small Hungry Jack's franchise in Sydney and renamed the four outlets, but concedes he would change names if Burger King's marketing proves successful. "We want to do whatever is good for our business, but Burger King aren't being all that flexible".

Mr. Cowan is also involved in a legal battle with Burger King follow- ing the U.S. company's termination of a long-standing development agreement that would have allowed Hungry Jack's to open outlets in Shell service stations across Australia.

Ammirati Puris Lintas Sydney has been appointed by Burger King to handle its mainstream advertising. Hungry Jack's $12 million account is with Hertz Walpole Sydney.

Copyright December 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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