Red Rooster’s grand plan to win back customers

NEW 'non-chicken' products will be added to Red Rooster's menu as the embattled company moves lure customers back into its restaurants.

The chicken giant's problems were under the spotlight this week when seven of its Sunshine Coast stores closed after franchisee Sunstate Foods Pty Ltd went into voluntary administration.

Now spokeswoman Lisa Owen of Craveable Brands, Red Rooster's parent company, has revealed the business will shake-up its menu to cater to a wider audience.

"Whilst there is not a specific vegan product on the menu today, there are plans to introduce a wider variety of products that will suit our customers in the future, including non-chicken options," she said.

This week marketing expert Gary Mortimer said Red Rooster had been roasted by its own lack of menu options as its American competitors thrive in a new world dominated by picky consumers.

Australia's home-grown roast chicken brand held its own for decades in a fast-food market saturated by burger companies from the States.

He said while McDonald's and Hungry Jack's offered salads and desserts, Red Rooster remained focused almost exclusively on chicken.

"There's also been the shift to healthier options," he said.

"They're (Red Rooster) facing the challenges of a changing consumer taste or changing consumer behaviour."

Red Rooster will shake-up its menu options to cater to more customers. Pic: Hollie Adams/The Australian
Red Rooster will shake-up its menu options to cater to more customers. Pic: Hollie Adams/The Australian

Ms Owen disagreed and said chicken was a "fantastic and versatile protein" with the average Australian consuming on average 49kg per year.

"In saying that, Red Rooster has also played with other proteins and products for limited time offers such as slow cooked lamb shank options, fish and chips as well as vegetarian options," she said.

"But whether its roasted, fried, on a roll or in a wrap, chicken will always be the core menu offering at Red Rooster."

Established by the Kailis family in 1972, Red Rooster opened its first restaurant at Kelmscott, Western Australia.

The family owned the business until the early 1980s when it was snapped up by Coles Myer.

In 1992 Red Rooster acquired Big Rooster and traded stores up the east coast, predominantly in Queensland before rebranding as Red Rooster across Australia with 270 stores.

It now boasts 360 stores and 9500 employees.

"Red Rooster has not gone backwards but has grown at above industry market rates over the past four years, this has been driven by our core menu offers, promotions and channel expansion through delivery," Ms Owen said.

But Professor Mortimer said the challenges facing the modern rooster was no different to other franchises.

"Across the board we've seen those same challenges," he said.

He cited the issues facing Gloria Jeans, Michel's Patisserie and Oporto, Craveable Brands' second brand.

"Retail Food Group has a number of franchisees who are struggling in the marketplace," he said.

Red Rooster plans to re-open the seven Sunshine Coast stores within days.

Liquidators or administrators were appointed to 113 Queensland businesses in September.

Read the Courier-Mail's full list here.