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Forbes: Meet The Billionaire Guatemalan Family Taking On Chick-Fil-A

CMI Foods has grown to be one of Latin America’s largest food conglomerates, and it’s now growing in the U.S. with Pollo Campero.

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 2:14PM 10/30/23

With nearly 100 units in the U.S. and another 270 worldwide, Pollo Campero, the Central American chicken franchise, has a cult following and is pursuing aggressive expansion through franchising in the U.S. Many prospective chicken franchisees recognize that Pollo Campero brings a rich history with its business, much of which is wrapped up in its iconic flavorful chicken recipe and bright brand colors. However, the family history associated with Pollo Campero runs much deeper.

Pollo Campero’s parent company, Corporación Multi-Inversiones (CMI) has, over the past century, grown to be one of the largest conglomerates in Latin America. In addition to Pollo Campero, CMI is responsible for packaged foods and three other fast-food chains. Last year, the group’s revenue exceeded $4 billion, and José Gutierrez, CMI Foods chair, expects sales to approach $6 million in 2023.

Gutierrez is the third generation to lead CMI, having started his involvement in 1974 after a tragic plane crash killed his father — the president at the time. Gutierrez was still in high school and just a teenager at the time, but he began taking trips to the office and attending meetings to carry on the legacy.

“The family enterprise is not just somewhere to work," he told Forbes. "It's a legacy, a responsibility we have to the family.”

While Gutierrez distinguishes CMI from a standard big business, saying it is “a grand business,” the backing of the conglomerate will play a crucial role as the wildly successful Pollo Campero works to expand in the U.S. CMI recently announced plans to invest about $1.8 billion in expansion through 2026. About $1 billion is dedicated to CMI Foods specifically, and about 20% of these funds are earmarked for Pollo Campero’s U.S. presence, CamperoUSA. 

The group aims to establish 250 Pollo Campero restaurants in the U.S. by 2026, and it is already establishing units in major, high-traffic spots.

“The upcoming locations are iconic,” said Gutierrez, referencing new developments in New York, San Francisco and Orlando. “I think we’re just getting started.”

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