June 17, 2009 // Franchising.com // Lake Forest, Calif., To further support their aggressive worldwide expansion plans, experiential restaurant chain, Johnny Rockets, has announced an agreement with William M. Van Epps to represent the brand and promote franchising opportunities among Asian investor and restaurateur communities. In his role, Van Epps will work with the Johnny Rockets leadership and development teams to broker franchise agreements in targeted international markets.
"We are excited to have such a well-respected and noted business leader as an ambassador for our brand," stated Lee Sanders, Johnny Rockets President and Chief Executive Officer. "Considering his success within our industry and his tenure as a member of our Board of Directors, we believe Bill possesses the skill, relationships and knowledge base to take our franchising efforts to a whole new level," Sanders added.
Outside of the United States, Johnny Rockets currently holds franchise agreements for forty opened restaurants in eleven countries, ten restaurants currently under construction and 72 commitments for future restaurants. The Company is actively seeking single and multi-unit partners in several underserved international markets. The internal development team will continue to pursue exclusive deals throughout Latin American and European countries, while Van Epps concentrates his efforts on those in Southeast Asia.
"I see tremendous potential for Johnny Rockets in this part of the world," said Van Epps. "It represents an iconoclastic American brand that needs no translation. In fact, as a result of our research on relevant lifestyle venues, we realistically foresee forty Johnny Rockets restaurants in Korea, fifty in Malaysia and at least 150 in Mainland China," he adds.
Van Epps served as President of USA operations at Papa John's International Inc., from 2006 to 2009, as Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of Papa John's International Inc., from January 2004 to 2006, responsible for domestic corporate and franchised restaurant operations and international operations. Van Epps also served as Managing Director of International at Papa John's International from 2001 to 2004.
Prior to joining Papa John's, he served for two years as President of International Division of Yorkshire Global Restaurants, responsible for the international development of Long John Silvers and A&W restaurants. From 1993 to 1999, Mr. Van Epps served as President of International Division at AFC Enterprises. From 1988 to 1993, he served as Vice President of Marketing and International at Western Sizzlin Inc.