Jamaican franchise company Franjam has made a deal with Middlesex-based SME Group to launch 15 Tracks & Records restaurants across the UK over the next five years.
Eight-time Olympic Gold Medalist Usain Bolt is an equity partner in the business, investing time and input in the brand when not training for track and field.
Tracks & Records started operations in Kingston, Jamaica in April 2011. The restaurant opened its first franchise in Jamaica last year.
In 2012, there were rumours that the brand would be coming to London after it was mentioned on Chris Evans’s BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show. However, the restaurant didn’t materialise.
Franjam managing director Gary Matalon told The Caterer he visited London in 2012 to talk with potential investors, but at that point the project was “only an intention”.
He added: “There was never a deal made and we have been taking our time to launch internationally in a very controlled way, rather than just breaking in to the market. We wanted to take our time to find the ideal partner for us, who shared our same vision and understood the business but also had exceptional local knowledge and would be able to navigate the landscape. That we found in our new partners and we are signed, sealed and ready to deliver.”
The SME Group operates, under franchise license, over 120 restaurants and hotels.
Company director and CEO, Aly Esmail, said: “We are pleased to add this incredible Jamaican brand to our growing number of franchises across the world. This partnership with Usain Bolt and the Tracks and Records brand will allow us to introduce an experience to our markets here in the UK that is as close as it gets to actually visiting the island and will give them a real taste of Jamaica.”
The menu offers authentic Jamaican cuisine such as janga doup, jerk pork, pan chicken;, rice and peas, and a variety of meat and fish crock pots.
Bolt said: “I’m happy to be able to share a taste of the Jamaica that I know and love with the rest of the world through the opening of these restaurants across the UK – London has always been a special place for me and I thank Aly for giving us the opportunity to share our vision and our culture with you all.”
The SME Group is a private holding company that operates under franchise license KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants, Costa Coffee outlets and Comfort Inn Holiday Inn hotels.
For the year end 31 March 2016, the SME Group had a turnover of £73m (up 3% on 2015) with £71m from restaurant franchises.
Videos from The Caterer archives