ANGOLA – Famous Brands will open seven Debonairs Pizza restaurants in Angola next year, making the fast-growing oil economy its 14th operation on the continent outside of its home market. The pizza outlets, starting at the coastal city of Benguela, will be opened in shopping centres aligned to food retailer Shoprite, the company said on Thursday.

“There’s a natural alignment with Debonairs Pizza and the Hungry Lion brand,” said Darren Hele, the CE of Famous Brands’ food service.

The fast-food chain’s expansion in the Southern Africa nation will mirror that of Shoprite, which has been on the ground for 11 years. “The seven stores will be a balance of new Shoprite centres and existing ones,” said Mr Hele. Famous Brands has “been seriously” exploring its options to enter Angola for at least the last three years, said Mr Hele.

Last year it successfully conducted a joint pilot project where it paired Shoprite’s Hungry Lion with Debonairs Pizza in the working class suburb of Eldorado Park in Gauteng. Shoprite will have the management responsibilities as a master franchisee in Angola.

“We’re exploring similar growth opportunities with Shoprite in other countries on the continent,” said Mr Hele.

Famous Brands operates in 13 countries on its own, while Shoprite has been operating a network of stores outside SA, now numbering 290, for the past 17 years. The grocer operates 33 stores in Angola, as well as 34 stores in Zambia and 10 in Nigeria.

About four years ago Shoprite said it would establish its own property development arm as it was facing shortages and delays in securing shopping mall space in Africa, where the property market is not as formal as it is in SA.

Asked if the Shoprite deal came as a result of Famous Brands’ struggles to secure retail space, Mr Hele said that was one of the factors, but not a major one. “Hungry Lion is just a natural fit for Debonairs Pizza, and Shoprite has done a fantastic job in Angola,” he said.

Shoprite declined to comment to enquiries about further growth plans.

December 7, 2014;