Do you prefer Burger King or Quick? Soon you won't have a choice. Photo: AFP
Burger King looks set to take a massive bite of the French fast food market after the burger giant announced on Monday that it is in negotiations to take over the 509 outlets run by Belgian chain Quick.
The Bertrand group, which is the major shareholder of Burger King France announced on Monday that it had opened up "exclusive negotiations" to buy Quick.
If talks succeed then the 509 Quick outlets across the country will be swallowed up by Burger King.
"The proposed merger would allow the new entity to become the second largest fast food chain in France," the two companies wrote in a joint statement.
The Quick brand would still be maintained in Belgium, Luxembourg, and outside Europe.
The sale will still have to be given the backing of staff representatives and France's competition authorities.
In France, the burger chain market is dominated by McDonald's, which has 1,200 restaurants and outlets across the country.
Burger King, the second biggest fast-food chain in the world after McDonald's, left France 18 years ago after it became a victim of the ruthless competition between Quick and McDonald's.
But Le Whopper made a much anticipated return to Paris in 2013 with the opening of a new outlet in the Gare Saint Lazare.
That was just the start.
Last year, Burger King opened 21 restaurants across France which now serve an average of 2,000 customers each per day.
Earlier this year the company announced a profit of €100 million for 2014 as more and more French diners turn to burgers as a preferred meal.
"These figures are very unusual in the catering industry and they indicate a huge commercial success, which is a bit overwhelming," Jocelyn Olive, managing director of Burger King France, told AFP.
Bernard Boutboul, a French expert in catering businesses, said the chain's success story was "unheard of".
"This is an average of €4.7 million of profit per restaurant per year, which is never heard of in this industry, especially after the craze of the chain's return had waned down," he said in April this year.
"McDonald's and Quick have been there for 30 and 35 years and their profits are respectively of €3,3 million and €2.2 million per shop and per year. Burger King has done excellent communication and promotion work on social media."
But shortly before it came back to France, a real hype around the brand had started to spread.
When the first branch of the chain opened again in Paris at the Gare Saint Lazare on December 16th 2013, people got there hours in advance to get their teeth around a burger, while others continued to queue for anything the restaurant had left in stock, even just fries (see footage below).
Qualium, then known as CDC Capital Investissement, bought Quick in 2006 from Belgian billionaire Albert Frere for between 750 million euros and 800 million euros ($837 million and $893 million).
While the traditional ham-and-butter baguette once reigned in France, hamburgers now account for one in four restaurant meals eaten in the land of gastronomy, according to a March report by food marketing group Gira Conseil.