The Mexican Wave Sweeping Australia!July 2011
In a similar fashion to the Thai cuisine explosion of the early noughties, the presence of Mexican fast food outlets across Australia has grown rapidly over the past few years, the market led by brands such as Mad Mex Fresh Mexican Grill that first opened its doors in November 2007.
Founded by Californian native Clovis Young and named as one of BRW’s Fast Starters in both 2010 and 2011, Mad Mex was the first of the fast-casual Mexican food brands that have emerged in Australia over the past decade to expand interstate. With two more franchised locations opening their doors in Melbourne’s Central Business District and another in Sydney’s Penrith this month alone, Mad Mex is poised to become the largest of the group and is without doubt the fastest growing. Up to five more stores are expected to open by the end of the calendar year, including expansion to the west coast.
Though market share of sales can be difficult to gauge, satisfaction from franchise owners is not. Only four of the currently nine stores, including the flagship store in Sydney’s Darlinghurst, are corporate owned, the remaining seven including the two new locations franchised. As an indication of profitability and confidence in the business model, the first two franchisees to buy into the brand have already purchased second locations.
Crucial to maintaining brand unity for Young is a strong show of support from the head office level down. Having managed the Darlinghurst store personally for the first 18 months of operation, Young can still be regularly found in the kitchen, both to experiment with new concepts for the authentic Baja-Californian menu and to ensure he maintains a clear store-level perspective that enables him to anticipate the needs and challenges of his franchisees.
Examining the business’s core values, the appeal of the brand for potential franchisees is clear. The menu is based on the principle of only using the best quality produce and authentic ingredients to deliver the best in its competitive field. Strong messages regarding nutritional value are also of paramount importance, the business transparently providing consumers with the ability to calculate the nutritional value of all menu items through a calculator system built into their website. The brand also provides permanent low-fat and gluten-free menu items.
As the ‘Mexican wave’ continues across Australia buoyed by outlets like Mad Mex that ensure top quality and consistency, consumer demand for the cuisine continues to grow. Based on the brand’s current growth in comparison to direct competitors, the high rate of repeat customers and feedback from consumers, Mad Mex appears to be cementing itself as the leader in this space.