Famous Brands endangers family-run business

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Famous Brands has clipped the wings of a number of family businesses. The latest one being the Durban super brainchild of self-serve frozen yoghurt outlet, Wakaberry, started by husband and wife Ken and Michele Fourie.

Other family businesses under this restaurant-chain giant include Turn ‘n Tender steakhouse and The Bread Basket, Europa and Fego Caffe among others.

“Famous Brands has been on a shopping spree since 2003, and will only stop buying businesses when they physically run out of things to buy,” Chris Gilmour, an equity analyst at Absa Investment once said.

“Of course we are talking about business here, money, returns or whatever we can call it. But what about the family’s pride and joy?

“Sometimes it feels as though Famous Brands, which is by the way all about brands, waits for these businesses to flourish and then pounces on them.”

The group carries about 20 different brands under its business name.

But what does this mean for small business creativity or growth?

The group’s chief executive Kevin Hedderwick once said the group did not see itself as a monopoly, and they were careful about not creating dominance in any one category.

It is only fair to mention that the idea of frozen yoghurt was only starting to gain popularity, and now, under Famous Brands it will become a “superbrand” in South Africa. Wakaberry only has 33 stores in eight provinces and by June it will comprise about 40-plus stores.

It might also be true that as a family business Wakaberry might not have been able to grow at this pace, but it had already built up its presence and brand with about 175 000 followers on Facebook.

Yes of course Famous Brand will double this, but this is where it ends for the Fourie family and their business partner David Clark. page 19

Cosatu

Cosatu yesterday took the extraordinary step of calling for mining houses to come up with a security plan to protect thousands of employees who want to return to work from the eight-week strike that has rocked the platinum belt.

The country’s biggest federation threatened that if the companies failed to release the plan by next week, it would lead a march to those companies that are based in the North West.

“Our call is to take workers’ lives seriously and listen to their call to return to work after two months with no food for their families,” Solly Phetoe, Cosatu’s provincial secretary, said in a statement yesterday.

In the statement, Phetoe noted that the striking workers would sink further into debt as they were about to miss their third pay check in one year.

Phetoe also talked about how it was “irresponsible to take workers on such a long strike where there are no prospects of achieving the demands”.

One cannot help but wonder whether Cosatu has suffered a lapse in memory?

Cosatu’s biggest affiliate, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) called a wage strike at Northam Zondereinde Mine in Limpopo in November that continued for 11 weeks.

The strike was called off after the union reached an agreement comprising of a 9.5 percent wage increase and a R3 000 once-off payment.

Cosatu was mum when NUM members were hungry and could not provide for their children and families during the Christmas break.

Instead it backed the strike, which was nothing more than an attempt by the NUM to regain credibility among members after losing its status as the biggest trade union in the platinum belt.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the NUM’s bitter rival, is leading the strike for a R12 500 minimum wage for underground employees in the platinum belt.

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Nompumelelo Magwaza and Asha Speckman.


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