Robbie Brozin

Nando’s brand searing hot and growing fast

Nando’s, arguably South Africa’s most famous food export, is on an ambitious growth path to boost its global presence to 2 000 restaurants. As much about peri-peri chicken as cheeky advertising, the company that started from one outlet in Rosettenville, Johannesburg, now has 1010 stores around the globe.

Co-founder Robbie Brozin said it sells not only chicken but the spirit of South Africa and Africa.

He says the group needs “adult supervision” to take it to 2 000 restaurants. “We need economies of scale – you need a guy who can scale the group.”

For this reason, Nando’s appointed David Niven – no relation to the famous British actor – as CEO 18 months ago. Niven is based in London.

Now Brozin’s portfolio “is almost like minister of fun and culture”, he says. He also has more time now to focus on corporate social responsibility programmes linked to healthcare and art.

The company spends R10-million to R15-million a year on art, which it ships around the world. “We probably have one of the biggest South African contemporary art collections outside of the country.”

Nando’s outlets are as far afield as Pakistan, Malaysia, Fiji and Bahrain. There are 300 in SA. Brozin sats there are many further opportunities in developing markets.

Initially Nando’s tried to make all outlets the same, but found it did not work. It now tailors its brand to different countries. Menu items are similar, with slight differences according to market needs.

Nando’s advertising, tackling issues of the day in an irreverent, humorous way, has backfired in some countries. Taking on Australian cricketer Shane Warne in Australia for his sex scandals did not go down well. “Don’t take the piss out of someone who’s a legend in his own town. You have to become an insider first,” Brozin said.

An ad showing an actor playing Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe reminiscing about the good old days with other dictators was pulled in Zimbabwe following threats.

This week Nando’s ran another controversial campaign inspired by Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela’s tweets about Jub Jub. It said: “You shouldn’t tweet when you’re hungry, McIntosh.”

One of Brozin’s driving passions is the anti-malaria campaign he and Nando’s have been involved with for the past 10 years, in collaboration with explorer Kingsley Holgate.

In 2010, Advertising Age magazine named Nando’s one of the world’s 30 hottest marketing brands.

Forbes magazine also named it one of Africa’s 10 most innovative companies.

Source: Business Times