Taste Holdings has spiced up its fast-food offering by buying a chicken business, Zebro’s Chicken stores, for R17 million. The company, which owns Fish & Chip Co, Maxi’s and Scooters Pizza, said yesterday that the Zebro’s Chicken deal would help the company enter the chicken quick-service restaurant market. Zebro’s Chicken was owned by a pair of partners as a franchise business and traded in malls, rural towns and taxi ranks. Zebro’s Chicken is a 15-year-old business with 40 outlets in the Western and Eastern Cape. John Hickman, the joint founder of the chicken chain, will continue to work with the company for a year. The acquisition is in line with Taste Holdings’s strategy of acquiring brands targeting lower-end consumers and businesses that have significant overlap with the group’s vertical integration capacity in both manufacturing and distribution. The group’s chief executive, Carlo Gonzaga, said the move would offer potential and existing Taste franchisees another investment opportunity with low start-up costs. “This is the first time that Taste Holdings has entered into a business that has chicken as their main offering and we are looking forward to it,” he said. Gonzaga said the brand would be rolled out nationally. “It’s unique because they actually prepare the chicken over an open fire similar to a braai,” he said. The shares rose 3.17 percent to R3.90. – Business Report