The first five months of 2017 will include a lot of major milestones for the Buffalo Wings & Rings brand—especially overseas.
Before the end of January, the brand will be opening a location in Pakistan in Lahore—the first of three locations planned in the area. Then, on March 1st, the brand plans to open a location in Palestine in Ramallah—one of five locations planned in the area. The brand will then open a European location in Cyprus, which will be one of five locations planned for the area, on April 15th. Finally, Buffalo Wings & Rings will open their a location in Egypt by May 15th. Both the Cyprus and Egypt locations are conversions, so they are currently going through the process of redesigning and branding.
"I've been traveling all over looking for the right markets that are a fit for the Buffalo Wings & Rings brand," said President & CEO of Buffalo Wings & Rings International Haytham David. "I've visited China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Russia, Poland, and more in the last year to figure out the best strategic markets for the brand's worldwide growth. There is a lot of opportunity out there, but we need to make sure it's a good fit to have the best chance of growth. All of the cities we're opening in this year have proven stability."
While looking for new markets to enter, the brand continues to perform well in the Middle East where they plan to open an additional six locations in 2017. While restaurant sales took a hit in 2016 across the globe, Buffalo Wings & Rings was up about 3.5% across the board in 2016 over the previous year.
While many brands have struggled internationally, Buffalo Wings & Rings has thrived, thanks to its strong international office.
"Our international headquarters has a close relationship with our North American office. The staff from the home office is a mix of individuals who are locals or have worked at Buffalo Wings & Rings. The international office is applying the same principles that made North America successful: investing in people, culture and systems," said Philip Schram, the chief development officer at Buffalo Wings & Rings.
Strategically, the brand will only enter new international markets if there is confidence in the location, an agreement in place to open multiple locations and strong restaurant operations with local franchise groups. David said all new agreements must be for three units - but many are for five, ten or more.
As Buffalo Wings & Rings continues to expand overseas, David also recognized an opportunity to broaden its offerings, too. David and his international team have recently introduced some new programs and specials over the last year, including the introduction of a new menu, "Marvelous Mondays" throughout all international locations. This means that each location partners with a local charity to provide back 20 percent of sales each Monday. David is also hoping to promote more involvement with helping local public schools, and in Jordan, he’s unveiling a "Wings & Strings" battle of the bands type contest to promote local music.
"It's exciting to see the success we're having on a global scale, but it's extremely rewarding to incorporate programs like our Marvelous Mondays and working with local schools to give back," said David. "There isn't as much of a 'giving culture' in some of the communities we serve internationally, so we're trying to change the culture and be a positive force wherever we have a restaurant."