CEO of Berkshire's Dairy Queen eyes China and India for growth, upgrades menu
by geemong

Dairy Queen is looking to China and perhaps India to fuel growth, while counting on a revamped burger menu to bring in more American and Canadian customers.

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Troy Bader, chief executive of International Dairy Queen since 2018, expects international markets to be the fastest-growing for the 82-year-old restaurant chain, which Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc bought in 1998.

China is Dairy Queen's third-largest market by sales and second largest by store count, with more than 1,100 locations. The Bloomington, Minnesota-based company is teaming with private equity firm FountainVest Partners to add 600 more by 2030.

"What we've seen over time is the ever-growing middle class and income levels in China, which makes our brand and our products much more accessible," Bader, 57, said in an April 29 interview during Berkshire's annual shareholder weekend.

Dairy Queen has more than 7,000 locations in 20 countries, none in Russia or Ukraine.

While the pandemic delayed international expansion, Bader said India could be next.

"It's at the top of our list," he said. "Once we know that travel is going to be safe, and understanding the consumer and business models in India when they're returning to what I would say is normal, or at least a new normal, we'll have a better feeling. I'm not in a hurry."

Bader reports to Berkshire Vice Chairman Greg Abel, who he called "incredibly astute, a very fast learner, a very quick study [and] eager to learn." Both assumed their jobs in the same month.

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