30/01/2018 - 12:45

Brand focus Jus the first step

30/01/2018 - 12:45

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Bert Giancristofaro will play to the strengths of the Jus Burgers brand after taking ownership of the business last year, with his immediate priority being store refits and fine-tuning the customer experience.

Brand focus Jus the first step
Bert Giancristofaro plans to fine-tune Jus Burgers’ offering before embracing growth. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Bert Giancristofaro will play to the strengths of the Jus Burgers brand after taking ownership of the business last year, with his immediate priority being store refits and fine-tuning the customer experience.

Mr Giancristofaro, who bought the business from a consortium including founder Justin Bell and property player Adrian Fini last August, told Business News he planned to further develop the Jus Burgers offering before targeting growth options such as food trucks.

“The responsibility (of ownership) is not lost on me, because Jus Burgers is a bit of an iconic Perth brand,” Mr Giancristofaro said.

“We’re walking a very fine line between evolving the business and not (making) massive change; taking everything that’s great about Jus Burgers and just making it better.”

However, he said Jus Burgers was in need of an injection of capital (and perhaps a new strategy), after its Fremantle and Northbridge stores were closed by the previous owners last year.

The most visible immediate changes at the two remaining stores, in Leederville and Subiaco, will be new fitouts, which Mr Giancristofaro said would incorporate the culture of the suburbs.

The Subiaco store would have a historical flavour, while Leederville would be more industrial, he said.

Those refits are likely to be completed in February, with the business also rolling-out a new smoked beef burger.

Mr Giancristofaro, whose previous roles include as a chef and then on the national executive of Compass Group, said he had been working with a consulting company for months on the new business plan, which would prioritise customer experience.

“What I want to do is create a really cool, uniquely Perth experience that’s world class,” he said.

“This is about being authentic in the type of experience we want to deliver to customers.”

That would give the brand an edge over other burger outlets that were perhaps larger and more commercialised, he added.

Only once the brand started to hit the right notes would the emphasis move towards expansion, Mr Giancristofaro said, perhaps towards the end of the year.

“I’m a really focused guy and I’m not allowing myself to be distracted by growth at this early stage,” he said.

“We may do more store formats like Subi and Leedy, but we’ve got well-developed plans for everything from a food court (type) footprint to food trucks, to smaller format.

“That will play out when we’ve got this first step behind us.”

A part of the strategy will be continued usage of Uber Eats, which he said was an example of the increasing number of potential channels for sales.

Mr Giancristofaro said despite initially not wanting to return to hospitality, when he had first been pitched the opportunity to buy Jus, he had felt the passion for the sector return.

Advice from a friend that burgers were consistent in the market cemented the decision.

“(The friend said) they may not always be top of the list in terms of the trendiest thing going, but they (are) a mainstay and pretty safe territory in terms of a business move,” he said.

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