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TypeJoint-stock company
Founded1980; 41 years ago (1980)
FounderHeikki Salmela
Number of locations
Key people
Kari Salmela, CEO
ProductsFast food
(hamburgers • french fries • soft drinks • coffee • milkshakes • salads • desserts)
Revenue€325 million (2018)
Number of employees
6,700 (2015)
A Hesburger hamburger and fries

Hesburger (colloquially known in Finland as Hese and in Estonia as Hess) is a fast food chain based in Turku, Finland.[1][2] Today, it is the largest hamburger restaurant chain in Finland,[1] Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with a market share larger than that of U.S.-based rival McDonald's. It further operates in Belarus, Ukraine, Germany, Bulgaria and Russia. Hesburger primarily purveys fast foods such as hamburgers, fries, salads and desserts. The company name is derived from the nickname of the founder, Heikki "Hese" Salmela.[3] The company also operates Hesecafes, which sell pastries and specialty coffees, as well as hot dog outlets.[1] Some restaurants provide car wash services.[4]


Heikki Salmela, the founder of Hesburger.

The chain's history reaches back to 1966,[4] when 20-year old Heikki Salmela opened a street food kiosk in Naantali. He later opened the first Hesburger in 1980 on Kristiinankatu in Turku, which became the first element of the first fast food restaurant chain in Finland. In the 1980s the chain grew fast. Salmela sold the chain and several hotels in 1988 for almost 200 million Finnish markka. Three years later, during the early 1990s recession, he bought it back for 25 million markka.

With only 12 outlets in 1992, Hesburger expanded to over 200 restaurants in 60 cities and towns across Finland over the following decade, absorbing rival chain Carrols in 2002. The purchase of Carrols gave Hesburger some previously-nonexistent leverage on the fast food market of Helsinki. Hesburger has kept rival chain McDonald's out of Turku efficiently: in 2014, there were 21 Hesburgers but only two McDonald's-locations in the city. Hesburger has also expanded to international markets, opening outlets in the Baltic states, Belarus and Germany.[5] There was a Hesburger in Damascus, Syria for a short period between 2004 and 2006, but it was closed as unprofitable.[6] Further expansion into the Middle East has been discussed by the company.[7]


A modern Hesburger restaurant at University of Helsinki metro station.

Hesburger employs over 6,700 people, of whom 5,000 are based in Finland.[8] Hesburger has been actively expanding its operations in Lithuania, announcing investments of 3,5 million euros in 2016,[9] around 4 million in 2017[10] and 4 million in 2018.[11]

Country Number of restaurants[12]
 Finland 282
 Lithuania 57
 Estonia 49
 Latvia 48
 Russia 39
 Bulgaria 22
 Ukraine 7
 Germany 2
 Belarus 2


  • Hesburger hamburger restaurants[1][13]
  • Hesecafe – hamburgers, coffee drinks and pastries[1][14]
  • HeseHotelli – hotels with Hesburger restaurant also acting as the hotel reception[15]
  • Hese kotituotteet – retail products
  • Hese Nakkari – snack kiosk products
  • Heseautopesu – car wash services for Hesburger customers[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Dana, L.P. (2008). Handbook of Research on European Business and Entrepreneurship: Towards a Theory of Internationalization. Elgar Original Reference Series. Edward Elgar. p. 203. ISBN 978-1-84844-130-9. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  2. ^ Lonely Planet Finland. Travel Guide. Lonely Planet Publications. 2015. p. 203. ISBN 978-1-74360-534-9. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  3. ^ "Heikki Salmela". Retrieved 2017-12-26.
  4. ^ a b c "Coming to Bulgaria: Finnish fast food chain Hesburger". The Sofia Globe. November 5, 2016. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  5. ^ "Hesburger – Finland's largest chain of fast food hamburger outlets". Archived from the original on 2009-07-11.
  6. ^ "Keskisuomalainen". Archived from the original on 2012-05-23.
  7. ^ "Hesburger ei ole päässyt Lähi-idässä puusta pitkälle" (in Finnish). Retrieved 2017-07-18.
  8. ^ "Hesburger - Organisaatio ja tunnusluvut". Retrieved 2017-07-18.
  9. ^ Migonytė, Sigita. "Prie Molėtų atidarytas naujas "Hesburger"". Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  10. ^ ""Hesburger" šiemet Lietuvoje planuoja investuoti 3–4 mln. eurų ir atidaryti iki 4 naujų restoranų". Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  11. ^ Migonytė, Sigita. ""Hesburger" į plėtrą Lietuvoje investuos 4 mln. Eur". Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  12. ^ "Hesburger - Restaurant chain today". Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  13. ^ "Hesburger vei burgerinsa Bulgariaan - aikoo valloittaa koko maan". Talouselämä. August 24, 2017. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  14. ^ Clements, J. (2014). An Armchair Traveller's History of Finland. Armchair Traveller's History. Haus Publishing. p. 64. ISBN 978-1-909961-01-2. Retrieved December 26, 2017.
  15. ^ Norum, R. (2010). The Rough Guide to Finland. Rough Guide to... Rough Guides. p. 246. ISBN 978-1-84836-969-6. Retrieved December 26, 2017.

External links