Famous SA franchise ideas inspired abroad

Updated on 20 January 2015

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Famous SA franchise ideas inspired abroadOne of the biggest advantages of traveling, apart from the cultural experience, is the invaluable exposure to various industries and business ideas. One idea could present an opportunity to launch a business in a market that is untapped in your home country, and if successful, could be turned into a successful franchise model.

Three such South Africans are a testament to this. Each of these entrepreneurs brought a unique food concept to South Africa and tailored it to fit the South African market.

1. Mugg and Bean

Mugg & Bean founder Ben Filmalter and his wife were inspired to launch Mugg & Bean after a visit to a boutique coffee shop in Chicago, USA. Filmater was intrigued by their unique combination of great food, good coffee and quality service.

The Chicago coffee shop experience made a lasting impression on the couple, so much so that they brought it to the South African market. Their hunch was proven right, in 2013 the number of restaurants in South Africa was reported at 133, with eight overseas operations, including the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.

Tip: Always be on the lookout for an idea that has not been done yet in your location.

2. Steers

Steers is one of the first franchise chains to be established in South Africa. But not many people are aware where the idea for Steers came from. Its founder George Halamandaris was inspired by the US food industry while on holiday there in 1960. Halamandaris brought back some of the concept to South Africa, which he then updated for SA’s market – including dropping items such as fried chicken from menu. This resulted in first steakhouse in the country. In 1983 Steers became a franchise, and in 1994 the company was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange under the name Steers Holdings Limited. Today Steers falls under the Famous Brands network, and has 522 stores in South Africa and around the world.

Tip: Be sure to tailor a business idea to suit your target market. Even a great idea will fail if its not what your consumers want

3. Chicken Licken

In 1971, while visiting the US, George Sombonos tasted what he would later describe as the “best chicken ever”. After failing to secure the recipe for the chicken he had tasted, he settled for a different, untested recipe from the same chicken outlet. The recipe proved to be a success in South Africa, and was responsible for increasing  turnover at his father’s restaurant. In 1980, Sombonos renamed the business to Chicken Licken and turned it into a franchise. Currently there are 259 Chicken Licken stores in South Africa and 12 outside of the country.

Tip: If you are unable to expand your business by yourself, another option is to franchise your business. 

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