From How We Made It In Africa.
Keeping the brand consistent and theft by employees are some of the challenges of doing business in Kenya’s fast food market, according to Azam Samanani, managing director of Hoggers Limited.
The rewards are that the fast food chains’ market, about 2 million Kenyans, is growing fast, said Azam, who was interviewed in How We Made It In Africa.
Hoggers runs eight Steers and five Debonairs Pizza franchises in Kenya, and it’s looking to add more.
“As Kenyans, we don’t believe that we need people from outside to teach us about quality,” Azam said in the interview. “We have had quality all along. We may not have a huge restaurant and food gourmet community, but it’s starting, and our people and products are among the best.”
There are more than 500 Steers and 350 Debonairs Pizza total, Azam said. “Not only does our experience have to match our own 13 stores, it needs to match all the other ones as well,” he said. “The second biggest challenge, unfortunately, is theft. The life of the average Kenyan over the last number of years has gotten more difficult… as a result, the impulse and the willingness to steal has increased. The proportion of our own staff members who are willing to cross that line has gone up significantly because times have gotten harder. The cost of living has been going up every year and most businesses cannot match real inflation and still survive.”
Several South African fast food brands that tried entering the Kenyan market failed, but Steers and Debonairs hung in there since the launch 16 years ago. “South Africans buy South African and they have homegrown brands like nowhere else…but when some of those businesses leave South Africa to expand, something gets lost in translation,” Azum said.”We have been successful because we are Kenyan, we look at our market and we figure out what is appropriate for our market. We don’t do things from the outside and assume they are just going to work.”
Future plans for the fast food chain include expansion, partnering with entrepreneurs and training to make them successful business owners. “We are looking for people who have the drive and fire to do this,” Azum said in the report in How We Made It In Africa. “We are not looking for wealthy investors, we are looking for entrepreneurs. There is plenty of room for expansion in Nairobi and all of the other major towns and cities. We are also considering bringing other international brands into the Kenyan market.”
Debonairs Pizza is the leading pizza restaurant in Africa, according to its website, debonairpizza.co.za. It was established in 1991 by university students including Craig McKenzie, who operated from a family bakery in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. In 1996 Debonairs was bought by Steers Group of Companies, now Famous Brands.