Burger King’s African Expansion Is A Swell Idea – But Kenyans Have Strong Reservations

By  |  June 4, 2019

Popular food retail chain, Burger King, is set to invest over USD 2.7 Mn to open new branches in Kenya as it expands its footprint in the market.

The American food franchise which recently opened an eatery with a drive-in facility in Lavington intends to launch up to three restaurants every year. So far, Burger King is present in six African names namely South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco.

Since it debuted the Kenyan market in 2016, the food chain has expanded to having five outlets located in different uptown places in Kenya’s capital.

“We hope if the market is good enough to grow into East and Central Africa. We were thinking of roughly 10 but we realised that is too ambitious. We are looking at two to three (per year),” said Mr Cornelius Muhati, Burger King operations manager.

Reportedly, the American fast food restaurant was on the spot recently for allegedly selling chicken and beef laced with antibiotics in Kenya.

Information from Kenyan tabloids indicates that the Miami-headquartered company responded to those claims with a statement. “These Restaurants Brands International commitments relate exclusively to the markets of the US and Canada. Kenya is not concerned,” says Samuel Coulon, communications officer at Servair which has a franchise agreement to operate Burger King Stores in Kenya.

The statement left Kenyans angered and they took to social media to rant and further call for a boycott of Burger King food.

Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut among other global food franchises are leveraging on the Kenyan middle class to expand their markets.

Since the turn of the millennium, global fast-food franchises have been entering the Kenyan market with the likes of Steers and Nandos being the first to set foot.

The U.S.-headquartered chicken restaurant chain, KFC, which has since debuted in Kenya was an eye-opener for a number of global food brands who were unsure about expanding to Kenya. Soon after KFC, Sandwich chain, Subway, followed suit.

When Kenyans thought they already have enough choices, two more chains in the fast-growing fast food chains opened up shop in the form of Domino’s and Pizza Hut.

Pizza Hut entered Kenya after acquiring the majority stake at Naked Pizza. And at the end of 2016, Burger King entered the market opening its first store at The Hub Karen.

With the recent surveys ranking Kenya as the top preferred country to visit in Africa – Nairobi as Africa’s top business travel destination and Kenya as the second largest market for luxury goods and services – it is more likely that Kenya will have more global food brands entering its market.

Featured Image Courtesy: LinkedIn

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