Senwes and Nando’s SA talk chicken, chips and strategy

  • 17 August 2021
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While all of these attributes ring true, a lot can also be said about the fast-food chain’s business philosophy and operating model.

During a recent online discussion between the Senwes management team, headed up by Group Executive Officer, Francois Strydom, and Nando’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Cathie, an interesting conversation ensued about strategy, adaptability and the ever-changing world of business.  

Learning from great business leaders

According to Francois Strydom, networking is the backbone of success, and it provides a framework for business insight, innovation and growth.

The discussion forms part of a bigger strategic drive within the Senwes Group of companies to not only gauge business and economic sentiment, but also to benchmark strategic management imperatives. Similar discussions have also been had with André de Ruyter, Eskom Chief Executive Officer, and Coen Jonker, co-founder and chairman of TymeBank.

The Nando’s story

Since Nando’s humble beginnings in 1987, when the first restaurant opened in Rosettenville in Johannesburg, the brand has grown in leaps and bounds. Today the brand enjoys an international footprint spanning 24 countries.

The company services customers through five main channels, namely: take-aways, sit-down meals, drive through, online deliveries and retail products such as sauces and spices. According to Cathie the company is also heavily investing in online food delivery and marketing, which sets their operating model apart from that of their competitors.

Cathie perfectly sums-up the company’s ethos and business philosophy when he says:

“We believe we have the world’s best flame grilled peri-peri chicken and our belief is that nobody makes chicken like we do, builds restaurants like we do, and loves South Africa like we do. Like most South African’s we are deeply interested in the news of the day. While we hope to inspire thought, we do so light-heartedly in a manner which encourages people to smile, and sometimes even laugh at themselves. We like to Fire Up South Africans in the same way we Fire Up our fresh, home grown chicken.”

When challenges come knocking

According to Cathie, Nando’s multi-channel operating model shielded the company against the brunt of the strict Covid-19 induced lockdowns as they already had successful drive-through and online delivery platforms to utilise.

Although the company could not trade for about a month during the initial hard lockdown, the business was able to rebound, driven by a shift in strategy towards online delivery and a new way of doing business in a socially distanced word.

More recently the civil unrest and protests that took place in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and other parts of the country, impacted the company to the extent that several restaurants had to be temporarily closed.

Despite these challenges, Nando’s manages to make the most of everyday opportunities, as summed up in this statement on their website: “When one door closes, a drive-thru window opens. When the chairs are packed away, a parking spot is the new pick-up spot with our kerbside collection. When you can’t get to a Nando’s, we will bring Nando’s to you and deliver right to your door!”

Strategic take-aways

During the conversation, Cathie shared the following “strategic take-aways” with the Senwes representatives as it pertains to Nando’s marketing strategy.

* Stay current
* Don’t shy away from the humour effect.
* Have a recognisable style.
* Engage with your audience on social media.
* Support your communities.
* Brand consistency.

In closing, Cathie attributed the company’s success to its strategic operating model which places an emphasis on:

* The geographical distribution of restaurants.
* An investment model that sees Nando’s owning half of all their own restaurants.
* Unit profitability.
* Value-adding partnerships.
* Continued development in new technology.

Next time you enjoy a Nando’s meal, take a minute to appreciate the business strategy behind your grilled chicken and chips. 






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