Interview CEO Max Burger

Coping with the crisis

Richard Bergfors
© Max
Richard Bergfors

The Swedish fast-food burger chain Max is known not only for its popular burgers but also for the many efforts it makes for the environment. We have talked to Max Burger's CEO Richard Bergfors about how the Covid-19 crisis has affected this business and which solutions have been found to face the challenges it poses.

This interview is an excerpt. Read the full version in foodservice Europe & Middle East 05/2020. Read now!

Looking back at the spring of 2020, how did Max's sales develop compared to the same period last year? How did you cope with the situation?
Richard Bergfors: We experienced an essential economic setback compared to March-June 2019, but in other ways the crisis has strengthened us as an organization. When the pandemic hit our markets, we immediately realized that we needed to adjust costs and take the chance to come out strong after the crisis. We decided to invest in food solutions to solve the needs that people were facing during the lockdowns. We also decided to market our services so that we would stay top-of-mind. Our strategy was to find the balance between moving forward and at the same time following the restrictions and regulations.

How has the crisis affected staff numbers?

In March, we had to end probationary employments and had to reduce the working hours in a number of restaurants. About 600 co-workers in restaurants in Sweden were affected one way or the other. That does not include the number of people in Norway, Poland and our franchise units, so the actual figure is higher. The strategy was to keep as many employees as possible since we knew we would need them back one day. In Sweden, we are back on track and hiring again.

What are your learnings from the crisis?
Our co-workers at Max are truly amazing! They have been, and still are, real heroes to cope with all the challenges during the crisis. However uncertain the future might seem, people have a tremendous ability to solve problems, face challenges and to adapt to a new normality.
About Max
MAX has a total of 160 units in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Poland and Egypt. The first restaurant was opened in the small town of Gällivare in Northern Sweden, by the couple Curt Bergfors and Britta Fredriksson. Both of them still active in the company, Curt Bergfors as the working chairman. The company is owned by the Bergfors family and the majority of restaurants are company owned.Back in 2008, Max was the first fast-food chain in the world to carbon label the entire menu and ten years later they were also the first to become climate-positive. A broad range of green alternatives and non-red meat burgers is part of their climate friendly strategy. They employ 5,500 people and serve an average of 1,200 guests/per restaurant/per day. Total yearly turnover is SEK 3.9 bn/€370 m (2019).