Emerging Restaurant Markets: South Africa

South Africa is an emerging restaurant market with a number of very strong players and an optimistic view of its future.  South Africa has approximately 85,000 restaurants operating within the country (although a whopping 57,000 or so are street stalls and only 9,000 or so are full service restaurants).

The country has experienced GDP growth of roughly 5% and inflation of roughly 7% each year for the past several.

The biggest single restaurant chain in terms of number of units is KFC with roughly 560 locations.  McDonald’s – who often tops the list or at least makes the top five country by country – doesn’t make the top 10 in South Africa (with roughly 130 units).  The largest home-grown restaurant chain in South Africa is the incredibly well-performing Famous Brands LTD.  Ambitious growth plans call for the chain to double it’s revenue and locations by 2013.  In 2010 alone they opened 125 new restaurants and stated a 17% profit growth on top of very impressive new unit growth (boasting nearly 1,800 locations in 2010) and comp-unit sales.  (Click here to see the complete Famous Brands analyst presentation)

One of my personal favorite chains – due in large part to spending 3 days in Zurich with the charismatic CEO – is Nando’s (famous for peri-peri chicken and a truly unique company culture and restaurant marketing approaches).  In the States, few have heard of this chain.  Robbie Brozen, Nando’s CEO and patriarch, plans to change that.  With more than 900 locations worldwide, Brozen has set his sites on a U.S. expansion and has already planted a flag here.  As it turns out, Famous Brands LTD recently acquired 51% in a competitive peri-peri chicken concept.  Looks like the battle will heat up in the title race for title of the world’s largest peri-peri chicken concept.

In general, the mood and views of the future of the South African restaurant market can be characterized by the overall spirit of the country.  While South Africa has had a troubled past, it aspires, dreams, hopes, and maintains a view of optimism even in the face of hardship and adversity.

I first saw the above video titled “Today I Woke Up” when Robbie presented it on stage at the 2008 European Foodservice Summit in Zurich.  He had been seated to my left and on my right was the former Chief Operating Officer of Southwest Airlines.  We were all speakers at the conference.  Little did I know Robbie would present to the audience of 600 directly before me.  He opened with the video you see here.  How do you top a speaker that opens with Nelson Mandela?  It was great fun and I really enjoyed getting to spend more time with him at the conference.  The reason Robbie used this video is because it both speaks of his company’s view and also that of the country.  In a word: optimism.

Restaurant Consultant Aaron Allen

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