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Deep-fried future (2) Nigeria's fast-food industry

One of the larger chains, Tantalizers, started small in Lagos in 1997 and now employs 2 000 staff.

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Shisa Nyama play

Shisa Nyama

(Food24)

Written by Stuart Graham

Nigeria’s QSR industry now has more than 150 fast-food brand names, including local companies Sweet Sensation, Chicken Lovers, Chicken Licking, Mama Cass, Captain Cook and Chicken Palace, according to a research article published in The Global Journal of Commerce and Management Perspective.

One of the larger chains, Tantalizers, started small in Lagos in 1997 and now employs 2 000 staff. Its stores offer fast-food including both African and “continental” dishes.

Tastee Fried Chicken, known as TFC in Nigeria, was started in 1996 by Olayinka Adebayo on Victoria Island, with the aim of offering Nigerians world-class fast food modelled on KFC. It now has 10 outlets across the country.

In 2013, South African firm Famous Brands launched itself into Nigeria’s burgeoning fast-food market by buying 49% of UAC Restaurants Limited (UACR), comprising 165 franchised restaurants across the country.

UACR has its roots in Nigeria’s colonial period, when a soap manufacturer, William Hesketh Lever, bought a fleet of ships in 1916 to supply his company with palm oil. The company evolved into the United African Company International, with a portfolio of businesses that include paint, timber, motor, electric and restaurant businesses.

Mr Biggs, which launched in 1986, developed from the coffee shops that were started by the UACR in Kingsway department stores in the 1960s.

UACR still houses the Mr Bigg's brand, the largest food franchise brand north of South Africa. 

Mr Bigg's has around 100 000 customers daily, with a menu including pastries and burgers. The chain sells around 25,000 pieces of chicken a day, and has sold around 635 million meat pies since its inception, according to Famous Brands.

Chief executive Kevin Hedderwick believes the deal has catapulted the company to “a completely different level” that will allow it to expand its presence in “a burgeoning, currently low-consumption per capita organised food-service market”.

Trading in Africa is inevitably about being first to market, and we believe that this transaction represents a significant step change through which we will further entrench our leadership position within the branded food-service industry in Africa,” Hedderwick says.

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