Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Hog's Taking a Last Breath? Franchisees Are Frustrated

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Hog's Taking a Last Breath? Franchisees Are Frustrated

Article excerpt

Byline: Alexis Carey

MOST of us have tucked into a plate of Hog's Breath prime rib steak and curly fries at some point or another.

But 30 years after Hog's Breath Cafe was founded, the beloved restaurant chain has been rocked by a string of closures, bankruptcies and allegations of mismanagement.

And some embattled franchisees now say it's only a matter of time before the brand disappears altogether.

HOG'S IS BORN

The first Hog's Breath Cafe opened in Airlie Beach, Queensland in 1989.

A second branch opened the following year, and soon it became a bona fide sensation, with restaurants popping up across the country and overseas in New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand.

In its heyday, there were 83 Hog's restaurants in operation - but today, it's a very different story.

STORE CLOSURES

A dozen outlets have shut down this year alone, with the Maitland NSW branch closing just last week.

Some affected franchisees have declared bankruptcy, while others have allegedly lost their homes and other assets.

Hog's Breath CEO Ross Worth has previously blamed a weakened economy and a downturn across the restaurant industry.

But according to franchisee Desmond Francois, that doesn't stack up.

Mr Francois, whose Hog's outlet in Morley, Western Australia closed in March, was forced to declare bankruptcy with debts of more than $1 million.

He told News.com.au the problem was Hog's-specific, as other restaurant chains including Domino's and KFC had actually reported growing year-on-year-sales.

He claimed struggling franchisees had approached the owners to ask for temporary royalty discounts to boost their cashflow, but the request was denied as the company "cannot afford it".

However, Mr Francois said Hog's Breath Cafe Australia had "pre-tax profits of $2.2 million" for the year ended June 2018 despite recording 49 consecutive months of declining sales. …

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