The Burger King Whopper will be available for the first time in South Africa when the US fast-food chain opens its first local store in Heerengracht Street on the Foreshore in Cape Town on Thursday.
The arrival of Burger King is expected to shake up the country’s quick-service restaurant sector that is dominated by Famous Brands, which owns the likes of Steers, Wimpy and Debonair’s Pizza.
The world’s second-largest hamburger chain intends to roll out more than six restaurants by the end of the year in Cape Town. Gauteng burger lovers have to wait a little longer as Burger Kings will only be seen in Johannesburg next year.
Grand Parade Investments (GPI), which owns the Burger King rights in southern Africa, plans to roll out the burger brand through its slot machine business. The company owns more than 450 slot machine outlets, which are essentially dedicated gambling areas in existing pubs - an advantage that rival McDonald’s did not have when it started out in South Africa.
GPI will establish "hole-in-the-wall" Burger Kings at these outlets. Hassan Adams, GPI’s chairman, has reportedly said he wants "to take Burger King to the people coming to us...." In an exclusive interview ahead of Thursday’s big launch, the head of Burger King South Africa, Jaye Sinclair, said franchisee applications will be considered next year.
"The reason we have done that is because we want to perfect the logistics and supply chain and also get the capex down as low as possible by finding local suppliers."
Burger King, which has contacted the Franchise Association of South Africa (Fasa) about becoming a member, said its local website was flooded with franchisee application form requests within hours of going live.
An aspirant franchisee needs roughly R5-million to acquire a Burger King restaurant, with up to 50% geared and at least half coming from unencumbered funds.
Fasa executive director Vera Valasis does not think the brand will change the franchise industry, "but it will change things for consumers".
KFC Africa MD Doug Smart said there is tremendous scope for growth in the country’s quick-service restaurant market, which presents significant business opportunities for current and future brands that seek to compete in the space.