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Jack Cowin (born 1942) is a Canadian/Australian businessman who owns Hungry Jack's, the Burger King franchise in Australia and is the Executive Chairman of Competitive Foods Australia, one of the country's largest privately held businesses.
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He became an insurance salesman with London Life for four years in Toronto before deciding to visit Australia to assess some business opportunities. Seeing long queues at a Chinese takeaway restaurant while vacationing in Sydney, he became convinced that fast food would sell well. He later returned to Australia to evaluate expanding KFC into the market that at that stage had limited fast food options.
He bought the right to open ten KFC franchises in Western Australia, raised $10,000 from each of thirty people to launch the business in December 1969, having moved with his wife and young child. Those who invested $10,000 then, had an investment worth around $8.9 million as of March 2006.
After opening eight KFC outlets, he bought the rights to Burger King. They both later discovered someone else had the rights to the Burger King trademark in Australia, so Cowin instead called the outlets Hungry Jack's. Many years later he had a falling out with Burger King over the name and other issues related to their franchise agreement which was eventually resolved in his favour.
The business Competitive Foods Australia continues to be privately held by his family, with an estimated value of $350 million. It owns 50 KFC outlets in Western Australia and the Northern Territory in addition to the 350 Hungry Jack's outlets throughout Australia, only 100 franchised.
Cowin also owns a meat processing business that exports throughout the world, he sold a substantial investment in Stanbroke Pastoral Company, one of the country's biggest cattle station operators. He is also an investor with 40% of BridgeClimb, the business that operates walking tours over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Bridgeclimb itself made an estimated $10 million profit in 2002. He also invested in Network Ten, the television broadcaster, selling out of his stake with a profit of around $100 million. Cowin is also an investor in the Lone Star restaurant chain in Canada.
He is a member of the board of directors of Ten Network Ltd. He is also a director of the Sydney Olympic Park Authority, a director of Chandler McLeod Recruitment company and recently July 2012 joined the board of directors of Fairfax Media. Cowin is an active member of the World Presidents Organization. He lives in Sydney with his wife, with whom he has had four children.
He made a donation to the University of Western Ontario to pay for the stands of the new football field, named after his father Stanley J. Cowin.
- Australian KFC Website
- Cowin wins lawsuit against Burger King
- Cowin's Investment in Ross Human Directions
- Jack Cowin - The Burger King
- Business Sunday program on Jack Cowin
- Australian Financial Review on Cowin's Entrepreneurship
- Franchise Council of Australia Hall of Fame