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First SA Burger King opens today

Burger King, the world’s second largest hamburger chain, will open up its first South African branch today at midday, on Heerengracht Street in Cape Town. The first 1000 customers through the door will receive a free Whopper, according to the chain.

The international chain has been around since 1954 and is most famous for The Whopper, a burger with a 100% beef pattie cooked over an open flame, which is also available as a Double Whopper, or in a kiddies’ portion.

Other options available in the local chain include vegetarian bean burgers, crispy crumbed chicken, grilled chicken fillet and chicken nugget burgers, as well as a Fish King burger.

The chain’s famous onion rings, chilli cheese nuggets and a range of desserts (hot chocolate brownies and blondies) will also be on offer. The entire menu is halaal, which has caused a bit of a ruckus among some bacon-loving folk.

The new branch offers kids plenty of entertainment opportunities, with a mini basketball court, Playstation 3 consoles, a jungle gym and a room with an interactive floor, which can be customised for children’s parties.

Burger King South Africa is a partnership between the international brand and a local company, Grand Parade Investments. The company is also planning a factory in Elsie’s River to supply meat to the whole of sub-Saharan Africa – a sign of a fairly aggressive expansion plan.

Burger King will not yet publicise details on the number of outlets it plans to open, but says “they’re coming and they’re coming fast”. “By the end of the year we should have about six [branches] up and running,” said Grand Parade chairman Hassen Adams in an interview with MoneyWeb.

They want to get at least two drive-throughs built this year, and the company also plans to open outlets in Tyger Valley and Cavendish in the next month or so.

According to José Cil, president of Europe, Middle East and Africa for Burger King Worldwide, the group’s opening in Cape Town is “an important opening for us” given the size and growth of the South African market and the ability to use South Africa as a platform to expand into the rest of the continent.

Burger King, listed in New York, has 13 000 outlets in 88 countries but is so far only represented in Africa by its 25 restaurants in Egypt and Morocco.

The group’s ambitious strategy was based on growth in existing and mature markets where it operated, as well as “expanding aggressively” in new markets.

“Last year we started to enter into what we consider to be ‘game-changing’ joint ventures and development partnerships in Russia, China and Brazil, and in November we entered into such a partnership in South Africa with GPI,” Cil says.

South Africa represents “a huge opportunity” for Burger King, with 51-million people, “a very strong GDP”, a growing middle class, rising out-of-home consumption, “and it’s a quick-service restaurant space that is rapidly expanding”.

Although the local market was competitive, Burger King offered a differentiated product as “we flame grill our products” while taste, service and cleanliness “are key attributes of our business and we think that sets us apart from the rest”, he said. “We have strong plans for Europe, the Middle East and Africa … Our next frontier as a brand and as a company is here in Africa. We’re just getting started and the growth potential in Africa as a whole is massive,” Cil says.

Burger King SA CEO Jaye Sinclair says: “We plan to become the leader in the fast-growing quick-service restaurants sector in South Africa.

“Although the competition in this sector is fierce, we believe there is a lot of growth in the market and that our offering will find a lot of traction in the market.”

Sources: Business Day, MoneyWeb, Eat Out

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