5 Local Franchises Making It Big Abroad – And Key Lessons For...

5 Local Franchises Making It Big Abroad – And Key Lessons For You


Did you know that the consumers of South African brands overseas are almost by default not South African? According to Andrew MacFarlane of Irvine Bartlett Public Relations, taking your brand to the international market means you have the experience, brand equity, know-how and financial savvy to compete there.

These home-grown brands are making a mark globally. Here’s how you too can become an international household name:

1Steers is flame-grilling its way to international success

Almost 60 years ago, an American holiday inspired Greek-South African entrepreneur, George Halamandaris to start the Steers chain. Today the home of the flame-grilled burger has an 8% market share of the fast food industry in SA and 18% of all burger brands. Its current footprint stands at 522 stores in South Africa and 43 international stores.

The lesson for you: Steers has won the Leisure Options Award for the Best Burger for 18 years running, and Best Chips for 14 years running. The customers have spoken. And countries such as Nigeria, Mauritius and Zambia, to name a few, agree that flame-grilled just tastes better.

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2Chicken Licken is taking ‘soul food’ to the world


According to the Wall Street Journal, Chicken Licken holds a 5% market share of South Africa’s fast food market, surprisingly tying with McDonalds. It’s also the largest non-American-owned fried chicken franchise in the world.

“When I go to the US, if I see something I think people will like, I bring it over – this puts us far ahead of others in South Africa,” says George Sombonos, Chicken Licken founder.

The lesson for you: Innovation breeds success. In 1992, Chicken Licken introduced hot wings. It was also the first brand to inject marinade into their chicken making it juicier. Another first was Chicken Licken being the first to buy the plates needed to flatten the chicken fillets to make them similar in size.

3Nando’s is firing it up globally


South Africa’s most successful restaurant group export has a presence in five continents with more than a thousand stores in 21 countries, excluding the 300 it runs locally. Expanding to southern Africa over the past few years, the ‘drive-thru’ format is proving popular and ready for global implementation.

“We operate in a very competitive environment and over the past 30 years many large international food brands have entered the local market,” says Trudi van Niekerk, Business Development Director at Nando’s. “We never compromise on product quality and we truly believe we sell the best tasting flame grilled peri-peri chicken in the world.”

The lesson for you: Try something new. Nando’s has established itself globally and continues its path of domination, along with rolling out a lot more of its drive-thru models, which have proven very successful within the South African market already.

Related: 3 Secrets To Franchising Success

4Galito’s is challenging the competition


With more than 60 stores launched internationally over the last three years, Galito’s isn’t afraid of the competition. The DRC, Mozambique, Malaysia, Pakistan, Mauritius, India, Sri Lanka, the UAE and Canada are thriving markets for the flame-grilled chicken chain.

“What works in one scenario does not necessarily work in another. In Africa for instance, we have entered into a joint venture, while in others, we have granted master licences. It really depends on the specific situation,” says Louis Germishuys, founder and CEO of Galito’s.

The lesson for you: Embrace competition and don’t be afraid of challenging a big brand competitor. You can benefit and learn from strong opposition.

5Spur strives to achieve world-class standards


Birthdays at Spur are almost as famous as its burger, steak and rib mid-week specials. The family restaurant leads the steakhouse market with 479 outlets globally, 429 of which are in South Africa.

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According to Spur’s CEO, Pierre van Tonder, they run a world-class distribution model that has improved numerous variables, from reducing costs and food preparation time to improving quality and customer satisfaction.

The lesson for you: To compete in the global market, you need world-class systems and processes. Companies that create world-class supply chains outperform their competitors.

Diana Albertyn
Diana completed a BA in Journalism in 2010 and has honed her skills as a newspaper reporter, senior communications specialist and most recently worked at a weekly magazine as a writer. She joined the EMTS Group in 2016 as a writer for Entrepreneur magazine and SmartCompany Networks. Passionate about honing her writing skills and delivering exceptional client results, Diana continues to keep a finger on the pulse of industry news and insights.