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SA fastfoodies land another ‘famous’ catch


Gold Brands, owner of brands including Chesanyama and Blacksteer, is set to bring Harry Ramsden’s “world famous fish and chips” to South Africa, it was announced on Friday.

A statement warned Gold Brands shareholders, however, that the agreement could still encounter troubles on the high seas and was still subject to conditions.

But what a catch it would be! The business, started in a wooden hut in White Cross, West Yorkshire, northern England, in 1928, promises “the same high quality standards as set by Harry Ramsden himself”, despite having more than 40 outlets throughout the UK and franchised operations around the world.

The original hut still stands on the same site next to the main restaurant, which once held the Guinness World Record for the largest fish and chip shop in the world, seating 250 people and serving nearly a million customers a year.

Fish&ChipsHarry Ramsden pulled up his nets for the last time more than than 20 years before the business, now under the ownership of the Merryweathers group, started its transition from a single restaurant to an international brand in the late 1980s.

Harry2In 1989, following a decision by their bank to withdraw funding, management floated the company on the London Stock exchange. The offer was oversubscribed by two and a half times.

The next 10 years saw rapid expansion throughout the UK and worldwide including in Hong Kong, Australia and Saudi Arabia. And now possibly South Africa, where they might be surprised at the level of competition in the world of fast-foodies, not being exactly first to drop anchor.

This is the very country where it was reported this week that takeaways and technology were the things that make the people happy.

It was announced this week that three of the five top brands in South Africa for 2015, as established by the South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SACSI), are fast-food brands selling chicken. Perhaps it is better to draw no further conclusions than that South Africans like to eat chicken on the run.

Nandoes ChickenLickenThe three brands – Nando’s and Chicken Licken (neck-and-neck at 83 index points) and KFC (hardly a beak’s distance behind at 82.9 index points) – are sandwiched between the restaurant chain Wimpy (83.6) in number one position and Apple (82.7), which sounds like food but isn’t, at number five.

It is not surprising to see that the most improved sectors after restaurants, which increased by 6.7 index points, were wireless internet and mobile handsets. Take a look at customers around any fast-food outlet and it will be obvious that mucking about on your mobile is up there with fast food as the nation’s favourite “hobbies”, leading to demand that seems to have pressured the service providers into improving their service.

Sectors that are on the way down according to this survey are supermarkets, which were down by 4 index points; life insurance, which might strike one as somewhat disadvantaged in any kind of satisfaction contest, and fuel stations.


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