Famous Brands takes big bite of Wakaberry

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BR WAKABERRY41 Independent Newspapers Luke Collins manages the Wakaberry outlet on Florida Road in Durban. The firm has sold a majority stake to Famous Brands to drive its growth across the country and the rest of Africa. Photo: Siyanda Mayeza

Johannesburg - Durban-based family frozen yoghurt business Wakaberry had landed itself in the Famous Brands pot after being hunted by several potential buyers, co-founder Michele Fourie said yesterday.

“We have received offers from a number of potential buyers, but are pleased to have selected Famous Brands as our partner because we recognise the value that the group can add to our brand,” Fourie said.

She added that Wakaberry’s strategic plan was to unlock the company’s massive potential to all corners of South Africa.

“Famous Brands provides the proven and successful business model to make this a reality for us,” Fourie said.

Wakaberry will be joining popular restaurants brands such as Wimpy, Steers, Mugg & Bean, tashas and Debonairs and others in the Famous Brands family.

Fourie spoke after the JSE-listed restaurant franchisor announced that it had acquired a 70 percent stake in Wakaberry, a first-to-market self-service frozen yoghurt brand.

Wakaberry has 33 franchised stores across eight provinces in South Africa and it is anticipated that by June, it will have 40 or more outlets.

Famous Brands said the deal would be settled from cash reserves and would be effective from next month.

Over the past two years Famous Brands has acquired several businesses, including Europa, Fego Caffe and Turn n’ Tender steakhouses.

The group has been buying up family businesses as part of its goal of becoming a complete food service provider with the capability to integrate its restaurants with its manufacturing divisions.

Last year it unveiled three manufacturing legs: Famous Brands Choice Meats Company, Famous Brands Coffee Company and Famous Brands Great Baking Company.

“A key factor underpinning this acquisition is the opportunity to fully integrate the Wakaberry brand into the Famous Brands business,” Famous Brands chief executive Kevin Hedderwick said.

“There are a number of compelling reasons why we are so excited about this acquisition. Wakaberry is the best in its class, which aligns with our group’s brand development growth strategy.”

He said the brand was highly sought-after by landlords, and, given its low set-up and running costs, it was an attractive business proposition for potential franchisees.

“In a short term we have the ability to significantly ramp up growth of the brand across the South African landscape given our regional structures, thereby rapidly entrenching Wakaberry’s leadership position in the category,” Hedderwick said.

In the longer term, Famous Brands planned to extend the brand into the rest of Africa.

The group’s network in the rest of Africa totals about 172 restaurants in countries such as Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Nigeria. In total the group has more than 2 384 restaurants.

Hedderwick added that over the past two years the food service industry had seen the emergence of frozen yoghurt as a robust new category in South Africa. “This fast-growing global phenomenon… is quickly gaining momentum locally,” he said.

The shares rose 4.1 percent to close at R108.50 yesterday. - Business Report

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