The 1990’s, with its transition to a new democratic dispensation, was interesting in that after years of sanctions and being cut off from the outside world, experts expected an influx of international franchises. While that tsunami never happened – besides McDonalds’s that injected another level of professionalism – the few that did, according to franchise consultant Eric Parker, ‘wanted to participate, but without paying their school fees and suffered the consequences as they could not stay the course and left broken dreams in their wake.’
Local entrepreneurs, spurred on by the wave of optimism sweeping the country, allocated cash and other resources to the development of home-grown franchise concepts from scratch. The nineties saw franchising come of age, both in quantity and quality in sectors as diverse as health and beauty, business to business, home services and education.
The Fast Food and Restaurant sector saw the biggest growth in new concepts with fast food broadening its base to offer the consumer a wider range of food options.
McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in South Africa in November 1995, injecting excitement into the South African franchise scene, especially in the field of training and the transfer of know-how. Today, McDonald’s operates over 200 restaurants in nine of South Africa’s provinces, serving over 8 million customers.
Restaurants and Pizza Parlours offered cuisines from around the world, with Italian heading the pack with brands like Panarotti’s opening in 1990, Debonairs Pizza in 1991 when two students revolutionised fast food service with their promotional push through data capturing and their free delivery by guys in smart tuxedos. Roman’s Pizza opened in 1996 with their unique offering, Piatto in 1999, amongst others. Ocean Basket brought Greek cuisine to the public, Anat started the schwarma craze, Mochachos introduced Mexican flavors in 1994 and Barcelos offered chicken alternatives in 1997.
On-the-go snacks were introduced by Sausage Saloon and Hot Dog Cafe, Chip n Dip was all the rage and King Pie revolutionised the good old pie, making and baking them in full view of customers back then.
Bakeries such as Butterfield and coffee shop/restaurants started making their appearance with Cafe Dulce and Cafe Rossini and Mugg & Bean taking the concept to a new level.
Pub restaurants were also prolific with Keg, McGinty’s, O’Hagan’s, and The Baron all popular; sadly those brands have all but disappeared and replaced by a new pub culture as has the old steakhouse franchise concept – now replaced with high-end steak eateries.
The Retail Franchise sector saw enormous growth with two brands standing out as leaders in the supermarket field;
Food Lover’s Market, founded in 1993 by Mike and Brian Coppin, started originally as a single fruit and vegetable store in Cape Town to become the largest privately owned independent food retail group in Africa. While the original core business is fruit and veg, in setting out to offer customers an amazing shopping experience, Fruit and Veg City evolved into Food Lover’s Market, a theatre of food that boasts bakery, grocery, butchery and deli foods, as well as health and wellness departments.
OBC Chicken & Meat, started in the 1999 as a Portuguese family enterprise trading in township and downtown areas becoming affectionately known as”ekhaya lenkukhu’’. They can be credited with changing the face of retailing in those areas with their clean, bright stores, latest in lighting, refrigeration and packaging and impeccable standards of hygiene, raising the area’s standards and the shopper’s quality of life.
Perfect Water and H20 starting the bottled water trend in the 1990’s and international 2nd hand franchise brands Cash Converters and Cash Crusaders opened in 1994 and 1996 respectively, offering a retail alternative to the mass market.
Pharmacies such as Sparkport Pharmacy opened in 1993 and Spec-Savers offered a new franchise opportunity to professionals in 1993. The Italtile Group and related brands started franchising in the 1990’s with their brands including the oldest Ceramic Tile Market.
The Building & Home Services sector saw prolific growth with new brands entering the market. In the tool hire space Talisman Hire opened in 1993 and Coastal Hire in 1994. Home improvement brands like Easylife Kitchens started in 1992 and On Tap offered their franchise opportunities in 1993 with Kleen Bin offering smaller, more affordable franchise concepts.
In the Business-to-Business space there was an urgent need in South Africa for businesses that could deliver a range of efficient business solutions – from replacing the sluggish post office services to offering courier services. PostNet was founded in 1994 to provide a one-stop centre for entrepreneurs, businesses, households and consumers, offering services including courier, copy, digital print, stationery, mailboxes etc.
The Health & Beauty sector nail and beauty salons were starting to franchise with brands such as Dream Nails, Hollywood Nail Bar and Placecol thriving as were Sure Slim and The Firm in the health and slimming space.
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