Nompumelelo Magwaza

THE CURRENT refurbishing and rebranding of Shoprite’s quick-service restaurant, Hungry Lion, would see the chain not only competing with the likes of KFC and Steers but also vying for dominance in other southern African countries in a few years, Hungry Lion chief executive Adrian Basson said yesterday.

Basson told Business Report yesterday that for the past two years Shoprite had been working on making the restaurant into a separate entity. This included rebranding, refurbishing and rebuilding some of the restaurants.

“For now we are seen as a medium-size chicken-offering restaurant but our plans are to take over southern Africa. Once we are done with rebranding and refurbishment, there would be few challenges that can stop us from growing,” he said.

Hungry Lion, which was launched in 1997, has 168 stores in eight southern African countries, including South Africa, Botswana, Angola and Swaziland.

In the past, Hungry Lion stores were placed within or next to Shoprite stores but this had since changed, he said.

“Historically the concept started with access space with Shoprite supermarkets and we put Hungry Lion where we could. But we have evolved since then where we have separate stores with an eating area with our last 50 stores not attached to a Shoprite store,” Basson said.

There are now only about 10 Hungry Lion outlets still attached to Shoprite stores.

“We also have some of the outlets in food courts competing directly with McDonald’s, KFC, Steers and other fast-food outlets. We are a totally separate brand and the campaign’s aim is to put Hungry Lion on the map as an individual entity or brand,” Basson said.

Hungry Lion will also leverage off Shoprite’s buying and sourcing power, as well as its regional store networks.

“We will be playing against the branded take-away stores but what we do have as an advantage is that we’ve got Shoprite’s buying power, assistance and control to actually give more to customers.

“This is our motto, we do not want to be necessarily cheaper but we want to provide more chips, bigger pieces of chicken, bigger ice cream.”

He said other advantages included not paying any franchise fees as the entity was corporate owned.

“Our plan is to expand right through Africa. In the past year or two we were consolidating the brand and giving it a new look but in the coming two years we will focus on opening new stores in shopping centres. Hopefully by end of 2015 we should have a majority of the stores on a new look and feel and new branding and running with more promotions,” Basson explained.

Hungry Lion sources its chicken from local poultry producers including Country Bird and is in negotiations with big suppliers including RCL Foods and Sovereign Foods.

The company has given away more than 100 000 pieces of chicken, 50 000 burgers and more than R1 million worth of airtime through its Lucky Bucket Campaign, which aims to build brand awareness.

Shoprite shares lost 0.68 percent to close at R157.93 on the JSE yesterday.