A number of local investors including President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) Beverly Lopez and local entrepreneur Joey Issa are expressing a keen interest in acquiring the local McDonald’s franchise, Wednesday Business understands.
McDonald’s Jamaica was run by Three Rivers Management, which was controlled and operated by Patricia Issacs-Green until she relinquished her stake in the franchise and stepped down a managing director last year.
McDonald’s now ha eight outlets – three in Montego Bay, three in Kingston, one in Mandeville and one in Portmore. It also has a mobile unit in junction.
What makes the McDonald’s franchise particularly appealing is that unlike other franchises it comes with prime real estate and equipment. McDonald’s also has real estate interests in both Cross Roads, Kingston and Ocho Rios, prime spots awaiting development a outlets.
Mrs. Issacs-Green started off ambitiously, opening 12 outlets in just four years. In 2001, she announced plans that would see 15 more restaurants throughout the island over the next 5 years. However, the harsh economic climate and sliding local dollar put paid to that.
McDonald’s vice-president for franchising outside the United States, Jim Kramer last year told Wednesday Business that it was looking for a local businessperson who did not necessarily have to possess experience as a restaurateur but must have the ability to invest US$2 million in the business. McDonald’s said it would provide the person with comprehensive training and the technology to maintain the operation.
“We are going to give tremendous support to the successful franchise, through our offices in Puerto Rico.”
The franchise will be expected to invest in both infrastructure such as buildings, as well as the retail side of the business, in other words the franchise would be expected to undertake the bulk of the capital investment.
Last year both Tom Tyler and Mark Hart of Caribbean Producers (operating out of Montego Bay) negotiated extensively to land the franchise but backed out believing it not to be financially viable.
Beverly Lopez, who once operated the Taco Bell franchise yesterday said: Yes we have had talks with McDonald’s with a view to acquiring the franchise but that fell through as a result of them requiring an owner/manager. They are also insisting that the owner/manager of the franchise be extensively trained by the McDonald’s team. Their way of thinking was not in keeping with my ideas and that’s all I can tell you.”
Joey Issa is fast gaining a reputation as one of the country’s leading young entrepreneurs. His ‘Cool’ brand adorns gas stations, phone cards, ATMs, tow trucks, gifts and cambios and he is looking to make acquisitions to add to his mixed portfolio of business interests.
Wednesday Business understands that Mr. Issa has expressed an interest in acquiring the franchise. Attempts to reach him proved unsuccessful but one of his company’s senior managers said: “I’m sure if this franchise proved to be a viable business opportunity, Mr. Issa would indeed investigate it as he does any other business opportunity that he thinks would add value to the ‘Cool’ brand.”