Butchers Club to roll out up to 15 new burger joints in mainland China

Hong Kong chain is merging with food and beverage company FWM Group which runs Morton’s Steakhouse in China

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 December, 2016, 4:48pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 December, 2016, 2:37pm

Hong Kong burger chain Butchers Club is getting ready to sink its teeth into the mainland market, with another 15 outlets planned for four Chinese cities over the next few years.

The burger company, which currently has four Hong Kong locations and one each in Singapore and Bali in Indonesia, is merging with the Chinese joint venture partners of Morton’s Steakhouse and Morton’s Grille in greater China, FWM Group – the restaurant management company, which runs Morton’s Chicago outlets in Taiwan, Shanghai and Beijing.

The move will see Butchers Club rolling out 10 to 15 of its outlets in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Beijing over the next two years, said Jonathan Glover, its co-founder and managing director, who is originally from Yorkshire in England.

“It’s exciting to me personally, to see if we can crack that market,” he told the Post.

Glover received the small-to-medium enterprise award at the Hong Kong Business Awards on Thursday night.

Butchers Club had gone as far as it could without further investment, Glover said, and the partnership – signed off last week after a year of discussions – would work from a strategic and financial perspective.

“The resources that we can pull makes it a really strong strategic alliance,” he said.

“For us to expand there would have been impossible without strong ties in mainland China,” he said, adding that Morton’s in Shanghai was the most successful outlet operated by the chain anywhere.

“So they’ve cracked that market.”

Glover expects the partnership with FWM – which itself works closely with the prestigious dining brands Morton’s Steakhouse and Morton’s Grille – will help with negotiating for space. He is already working with property developer Swire to scout locations, especially spots in malls and new developments.

Future locations of the Butchers Club concepts will continue the current the dry-aged beef burger concept, but add more emphasis on craft beer in an effort to target young office workers.

“The footprints will be bigger in China, obviously space is less of an issue, as there is a lot more,” he said, adding that could mean proper bars rather than just a couple of beers on offer.

Glover will be taking on a new role as chief creative director for all of the brands in the region, which entails looking after marketing and brand development.

Media has always been part of Butchers Club’s strategy, and the first move on the mainland will be to send up Black Betty, the company’s food truck, for the upcoming opening of Morton’s Grille in Guangzhou’s IGC mall.

“The whole licensing and social media aspect is different. I’m really looking forward to getting my head around it and learning it,” he said.

Glover sees the move as a challenge fraught with risk, but also big rewards.

“It’s a challenge, I’m going to set some really high goals. If we can have 15 stores open by 2018, I’m going to be really happy.”