Avia Collinder, Business Writer
Wing King Limited has scaled back to one location, but owner Christopher Morgan says he is repositioning the food-service company to go public.
Morgan says he has hired consultants to position the company for an initial public offering and listing on the JSE Junior Stock Exchange. He is the sole shareholder of the food operation whose specialty is chicken wings.
"It has been a very interesting year," said Morgan, who shuttered the Sovereign Centre location in November. The remaining store continues to operate from Oaklands Plaza on Constant Spring Road in Kingston.
Wing King opened in Oaklands in December 2010, following the successful testing of a wing menu with signature sauces developed by the company.
Starting originally with three sauces, the number available grew to include Guava Jerk, Garlic Parmesan, Buffalo Wild, Sweet & So-Wah, Pineapple Ginger, Dragon Stout BBQ, Bacon Cheddar Ranch, Orange Sesame Asian, Strawberry BBQ mild and hot.
Morgan said 2012 was spent "maintaining a very faithful customer base". He also introduced a mobile food unit in New Kingston and Manor Park, which turned out to be a lossmaker.
"The truth is it has not really worked. It was not a money earner," he said. "It's more economical to set up a permanent location. We will use them (mobile units), however, to continue testing the market."
What has taken off for the company, in terms of customer response, are healthy products including grilled wings and reggae salad.
As part of the restructuring, Wing King will soon be introducing a fried chicken lunch offering in various sizes, "smothered in our award-winning sauces", to be called Belly Full, the Belly Bang and the Belly Buss.
"We also will be introducing sweet potato balls, alongside macaroni and cheese and our wings stuffed with cheesy bacon stuffing and a cheddar jalapeno stuffing, as well as a macaroni-and-cheese stuffing. The wings will be deboned and stuffed," Morgan said.
Morgan also plans to increase his store count by four to five - including one in Portmore, and another in Liguanea. The other two locations under consideration were not disclosed.
"We would like to, by the end of 2013, see the establishment of four stores, but the main goal is going on the stock exchange. We are working on the first stage with a management consultancy firm. We are also exploring the different options for an equity partner," Morgan told the Financial Gleaner.
"We will also consider franchising or any group or person interested in looking at a chain. The thought of going abroad is another option on the table," he said.
Morgan said the restructuring programme is focused on Wing King's long-term growth, following a challenging 2012 when the company was focused on its stability in a tight market.
"The reality is, as we seek stability and to solidify ourselves in the market and to respond to what people are asking for - which is a more affordable food option - we are fighting just like the large companies," he said.
"We are still very excited about the growth opportunities. We are even more actively looking for a location in Portmore. We have relocated out of Sovereign Centre, but we are looking for a branch in the Liguanea area."
The company will focus on deliveries in Portmore and also plans to expand the service within Kingston.
"We want to do more deliveries in Kingston and to be the problem-solver for those who need food taken to them," Morgan said.