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Thu 16th Jun 2022 - Itsu signs French franchise agreement, McDonald’s pays $1.3bn to settle French tax dispute
Itsu signs French franchise agreement, plans 50 sites in next five years: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, has signed a franchisee agreement with French restaurant group, Groupe Bertrand. Itsu’s master franchise agreement with Groupe Betrand will see Itsu restaurants open across France. The plan is to open 50 sites within the next five years. Groupe Betrand, founded in 1997 by Olivier Betrand, is a multi-brand restaurant operator with a projected turnover of €2.2bn this year. Itsu has 72 company owned sites across the UK as well as multiple UK franchisee agreements. Pizza Hut giants HWS opens its fourth Itsu restaurant, in Aberdeen, this summer. “We’re on a mission to build a new fast-food place celebrating the beauty of Asian-inspired cuisine – fast, affordable & healthy,” said Itsu founder Julian Metcalfe. “To be building our restaurants across France with such world­ class operators as Olivier Betrande and his team is an honour.” Itsu’s first European restaurant opened in partnership with Autogrill in Brussels airport in 2021. This month saw the appointment of Nick Schapira as Itsu’s new director of international. Schapira has more than 15 years of experience developing international franchisees with the Jamie Oliver Group and Vapiano and has joined Itsu to expedite international expansion. Last year, Bridgepoint invested in a “meaningful” minority stake in Itsu. The investment is expected to help create 2,000 UK jobs over the next five years, with the addition of 60 new company-owned UK sites.

McDonald’s agrees to pay $1.3bn to settle French tax dispute: McDonald’s has agreed to pay $1.3bn in fines and back taxes to settle a tax dispute in France, ending a long-running probe into whether the company had properly declared all of its income in the country. The case centred on allegations, which first surfaced in 2014, that McDonald’s diverted fees paid by its franchise restaurants to units in other countries, thereby reducing its taxable income in France. French media reported then the authorities were scrutinising royalties sent to a Luxembourg subsidiary. McDonald’s French headquarters were searched by police in 2016 as part of the probe. McDonald’s lawyers said the settlement did not amount to an admission of guilt. “It’s a judicial agreement.... to avoid a trial, which is a very long and inevitably uncertain process,” lawyer Denis Chemla said. The settlement is similar to a $1bn accord reached by Google, now Alphabet, in 2019 to end a French case where it had also been accused of unfairly shifting profits. McDonald’s has 1,500 restaurants in France, many of which are franchises that pay a licensing fee to McDonald’s for use of the brand, information-technology systems and restaurant decoration. In a statement, McDonald’s said the fiscal agreement reached – which ends both tax and criminal cases against it – covered the use of its brand and know-how for the years from 2009-2020. It said over that period the company had paid more than €2.2bn ($2.29bn) of taxes in France and created almost 25,000 jobs.

Pret A Manger to expand into the UAE: Pret A Manger has announced it will expand in the United Arab Emirates as part of a new agreement with long-term franchise partner, Emirates Leisure Retail. The company, which has recently signed deals to open in Canada, Spain and Portugal, said the move would mark another step in its plan to bring its freshly made food and organic coffee to even more people around the world. Emirates Leisure Retail, a subsidiary of the Emirates Group, owns and operates more than 300 restaurants, cafes and bars across the Middle East, Australia, Asia, America and Africa. As part of the new franchise agreement, up to 20 new shops are expected to open across the UAE in the years ahead. The move is part of Pret’s plan to double the size of its business in the next five years and follows an agreement in November last year to expand in Kuwait with One PM Franchising. Pano Christou, chief executive of Pret, said: “We have a long-standing relationship with Emirates Leisure Retail, who have helped the Pret brand go from strength to strength in the Middle East. This new partnership builds on the great work achieved to date and is a further vote of confidence in the Pret brand across the globe. Together, we hope to bring Pret’s freshly made food and organic coffee to even more people in the region.” Andrew Day, ELR and MMI Group chief executive, added: “We’re delighted to reach a new agreement with Pret A Manger to expand the Pret brand in the UAE. We’ve been working with Pret for over seven years, and in that time, we’ve seen the demand in Dubai for Pret’s freshly prepared food and organic coffee grow every day. This extended partnership will help us meet that demand across the country.” Pret announced last year that it planned to expand into five new markets by the end of 2022. Earlier this week, Pret announced plans to launch its brand and products in Spain and Portugal as part of an agreement with new franchise partner, Ibersol Group. It is also understood to be in talks with Reliance Industries’ retail subsidiary, Reliance Retail, to launch in India.

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