Taking a bite into the lunch trade

O’BRIENS Irish Sandwich Bar opened its first Australian store in West Perth this week.

The global franchise has more than 200 stores and its operation has been brought to Australia by Perth businessman Rob Moran and his Sydney-based business partner Bryan Johnson.

“We have acquired Australian and New Zealand franchising rights and we can see it growing quite quickly, but we are not going to rush out and open large numbers of stores,” Mr Moran said.

“We will open another one or two outlets in the CBD by the end of February.

“We’re going at it fairly slowly at first but over a period of time there could be up to 10 stores in Perth.”

He said the O’Briens Irish Sandwich Bar concept would be popular because it fitted market demands.

“It’s an up-market sandwich cafe. We are chasing the office worker demographic,” Mr Moran said.

“We wanted to find something fresh and healthy. To me that’s the direction of take-out food. The big fast-food boys are losing market share.”

While O’Briens isn’t a do-it-yourself concept such as Mr Bird’s MYO, it follows a similar concept in that it provides a range of healthy meals for lunch.

“There is an express section where you can make a selection from pre-made sandwiches but the concept is mainly to order sandwiches,” Mr Moran said.

“What we do differently are a few things. The bread is an Irish recipe and it’s a bit thicker. We will introduce some drinks from overseas and, over time, everything will be branded O’Briens, including our water.

“The store has a very up-market fit out, like the Dome and Starbucks style.”

Like the name and some of the ingredients suggest, this concept is an Irish one that has been expanding to the far reaches of the globe, including recent launches in China and the US.

The first Australian store was planned to open in Sydney, but given the city’s high rental rates, Mr Moran and Mr Johnson decided Perth would be a more favourable business climate.

“There’s a bit of saturation in the market [in Sydney], not so much in our segment. No-one is doing branded sandwiches other than Subway, but that is a different market appeal,” Mr Moran said.

O’Briens Irish Sandwich Bar will also offer office catering and good coffee, he said.

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