KENYA – American restaurant chain Pizza Hut is set to enter the Kenyan market with two stores planned for Nairobi by the end this year, seeking to cash in on the growing demand for fast foods by an expanding middle class.

The pizza chain — which owns and franchises 13,616 stores in more than 90 markets globally — is setting up the two shops at Westgate Mall and College House on University Way in Nairobi.

Pizza Hut is a subsidiary of New York Stock Exchange-listed Yum! Brands Inc, which also owns KFC and Taco Bell brands.

Kenya is now Pizza Hut’s fourth market in the continent after South Africa, Zambia and Mauritius. The new stores will cost about $250,000 (Sh25.5m) each to put up.

 “We have two stores that we expect will open in the next few weeks and several more next year,” said Yum! Brands spokesperson Laurie Schalow in an interview.

 “Kenya is an incredibly exciting market for Pizza Hut! Expanding into one of the biggest African economies is very exciting.”

Pizza Hut said its Kenyan outlets would serve meals that meet Islamic dietary guidelines (Halaal), in a bid to appeal to Muslims who make up about a tenth of the population.

The Kentucky-based pizza chain said the Kenyan stores are franchisee owned, and would be operated by Liberty Eagle — that also owns the Subway franchise in Kenya and Tanzania.

Pizza Hut’s entry into East Africa’s largest economy comes at a time when foreign restaurant chains have been jostling to set up shop in Kenya, cementing Nairobi as the region’s foodie hub.

South African seafood chain Ocean Basket, Naked Pizza, American fast-food giant KFC, sandwich chain Subway, ice cream seller Cold Stone Creamery, Japanese firm Toridoll and Domino’s Pizza are some of the big players who have recently opened stores in Kenya.

McDonald’s has already invited investors to put in applications for a Kenya franchise, sending out the strongest signal yet of its plans to open shop in Nairobi.

These global players are turning to emerging markets such as Africa for growth, attracted by a rise in households’ disposable incomes, fast economic growth and a young population, according a study by McKinsey & Co. 

Fast-food culture and grabbing meals on the go is quickly gaining currency in Kenya, driven by increased exposure, changing lifestyles, and a growing appetite for exotic foods.

Nairobi’s large expatriate community serving the many multinationals and foreign missions with hubs in the city has also attracted these global restaurant chains.

Pizza Hut, which currently operates 17 restaurants in Africa, said it plans to expand to Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ghana and Angola in the coming year.

The restaurant styles itself as a middle-class eatery specialising in pizza but also sells other meals such as pasta, chicken, breadsticks, fries and soft drinks.

December 9, 2015;