London ON-based Vegan Chain ‘Odd Burger’ Looks to Major Location Expansion in Canada and Globally [Interview]


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James McInnes founded Odd Burger in 2014 as a grassroots vegan organization that brought organic fruit and vegetables from local farmers to customers’ doorsteps. 

Today, the idea has grown into a retail footprint of nine vegan, fast food, plant-based restaurants in Canada, 13 more under construction, and hundreds, perhaps thousands more, coming across the globe. The first location opened in London, Ontario 2016.

James McInnes

Recently, it announced a non-binding letter of intent with 14728696 Canada Inc. o/a Earthlings Canada Inc. to open 145 locations in India and five locations in Singapore over a period of 10 years.

“The growth opportunity in the Indian market is significant,” said James McInnes, CEO and Co-Founder of Odd Burger. “It is estimated that there are 574 million people that follow a meat-free diet in India, with 126 million of those adhering to a vegan diet. The local connections and knowhow gained through our partnership with the Developer group will help us service this large and growing market.

“We think Canada is easily a 100 store market. We plan to get there probably within the next six to seven years.”

Utsang Desai, who is on the Odd Burger board, is launching the brand overseas. McInnes said Desai is also responsible for developing Odd Burger in Alberta and British Columbia.

“We expect there to be tremendous excitement when we launch Odd Burger in the Indian market,” said Utsang Desai. “The market is craving an industry-leading brand like Odd Burger to provide a vision for a sustainable future and to make plant-based eating more accessible.”

McInnes said Odd Burger is currently looking at Germany as well for expansion and the big push will be into the U.S.

“We hope to be making an announcement very soon. Our primary growth market is going to be in the U.S.”

McInnes said he can see “thousands” of Odd Burgers eventually around the world.

“Our model is a lot kind of like Subway. Small owner operated, pretty easy to build. Easy to operate. You can operate with as little as one person. We really do focus on the owner-operator model which allows restaurants to have a smaller footprint,” he said. “We can fit into less than 1,000 square feet. Our operational overhead is low which means we can have more locations . . .  We feel we can support about one Odd Burger per 100,000 people.

Image: Odd Burger
Rendering: Odd Burger 50,000 sq. ft. food manufacturing facility London, Ontario

“I think people are looking for healthier fast foods that still taste good. There’s kind of this hole in the market so to speak . . . Consumers still want to satisfy their cravings in a healthier more sustainable way and the key is our focus is on sustainability and healthier ingredients. We use a lot of flax seeds in our products for example. We use a lot of chickpeas. We use a lot of natural ingredients that people do feel good about eating. 

“The key is this transformation of fast food from an industry that’s really bad for the world to an industry that’s really good for the world. We’re leading that change.”

He said Odd Burger’s mission is to disrupt the fast-food industry by offering delicious food made from scratch using plant-based, minimally processed and sustainable ingredients that are good for people and the planet.

And it is fulfilling this mission by developing advanced automation technology, large scale plant-based food manufacturing facilities and a vertically integrated, locally sourced supply chain.

In addition to its Canadian operations, the developer group for overseas has a local presence in the Indian/Singapore market, which is expected to accelerate Odd Burger’s growth in those regions. The group plans on opening a corporate flagship location in Mumbai, India by the end of 2023, which will serve as a model store for the territory. 

The terms of the agreement include a 50 per cent split of all royalties and franchise fees collected in the territory with Odd Burger, as well as a 2.5 per cent contribution to the Odd Burger advertising fund. 

Odd Burger has signed an agreement with Sai-Ganesh Enterprises (SGE), a family-owned hospitality group specializing in franchising and commercial construction, to open 36 new locations in Alberta and British Columbia over the next seven years.

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.


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