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Nando’s: Not A Headless Chicken

Nando’s peri-peri chicken is famous all over world. A truly global brand, it employs around 30,000 people and has at least a thousand restaurants selling the spicy hot chicken brand in places like Washington, London and Johannesburg. But South Africa is where it all started.

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Nando’s founder Robert Brozin, 53, looks, speaks, and swears, more like a surfer than the head of a food industry giant.

Dressed in a pair of jeans, a button-down shirt, a ‘united against malaria’ bracelet and loafers, he could easily be dismissed as an old man suffering from a midlife crisis. It’s all part of his plan to disarm anyone who has preconceived ideas about how a company chairman should look and act.

The reality is that Brozin is a very smart businessman. At the FNB Franchising Leadership Summit held in Sandton, Johannesburg last year, he told the gathered crowd:

“Our basic vision, when we started twenty five years ago, was to have fun. If you are not going to have fun, do not do it. This is not a dress rehearsal; this is life, boet [brother in Afrikaans]. We are trying to keep that balance while at the same time changing how the world thinks about chicken,” he says.

Nando’s has certainly changed the way the world thinks about chicken, not only through the spicy meals they dish up but through their infamous, sometimes political, advertising campaigns.

But where did it all start?

Brozin was born in the small town of Middelburg, in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, but finished high school at Johannesburg’s King David High School.

He did a BComm degree at the University of the Witwaters-rand, after which he joined accounting giant, Price Waterhouse before they became PricewaterhouseCoopers.

He did two years of articles before joining his father’s business Teltron as a marketing manager.

While working at Teltron, he met his future business partner Fernando Duarte, who introduced him to a shop in the small suburb of Rosettenville called Chickenland that sold Portuguese chicken. They later bought the shop.

FORBES AFRICA had an opportunity to speak to him after the summit.

“Fernando and I used to go eat in Rosettenville and I liked the chicken. I wanted to be an investor. I thought I would put money in and Fernando would be there and I would just come to check how things were. But this was not the case. I soon found out I had to be full-time,” says Brozin.

Brozin wanted to take the brand global and enlisted the services of various advertising agencies to help him market the brand.

They finally found the right match in HuntLascaris, which was also just starting out. The two companies created some of the most talked about advertisements in South African television.

“We met Reg and John, who became our first proper agency. We were so aligned, whereas before we were running around like chickens without heads. I remember Hunt presenting adverts to us that I thought were terrible that went on to win awards, which I will now take credit for,” says Brozin.

One of the HuntLascaris founders, Reg Lascaris, remembers those early days for both companies that have since grown to become world beaters.

“I met Robbie in the very early ‘90s, when he was looking for an advertising agency to handle his business. He came to see us and we then presented some ideas back to him, which he liked. Our biggest achievement was in creating breakthrough and controversial advertising that helped create the personality of the brand,” he says.

Today, Nando’s can be found in more than 25 countries around the world, across five continents. But it hasn’t been plain sailing for Brozin, and his partner, to get it to this level.

“When we started out everyone knew about the other brands like Chicken Licken and KFC […] but we were passionate about chicken. The front line people are the real heroes at Nando’s. You can’t have a great organization without having good people at that level,” he says.

He also gives credit to his father, Max, and his partner for keeping him going when times were tough.

“There were times when I was ready to throw in the towel. My personal success has been surrounding myself with people who pull you up when you are down. My dad has been a huge influence in my life. He is a Jewish accountant. Everything is about cost. Fernando has been fantastic for me. We disagree many times but he has gotten me out of [trouble] many times. It’s not how you get into [trouble] but how you get out of [trouble],” he says.

Brozin has stepped down as CEO of Nando’s and has appointed David Niven, previously head of the American and European Nando’s divisions, in his place. Brozin says it was time to get some “adult supervision” but admits that he is busier than he has ever been.

“It needed the right time and right guy to come in and thicken the Nando’s brand globally. I gave the new CEO a watch. I said, ‘You might have the watch but Africa has the time. As you get bigger you get tighter and you squeeze people. That is not the way to do it.’”

It is clear that the married father of three is not only driven by profits; he is passionate about his efforts to curb the spread of malaria in Africa.

Nando’s sells ‘united against malaria’ bracelets in all of its restaurants to raise awareness. The proceeds go to buying mosquito nets for people in affected regions.

However, it is in business where Brozin is an expert. He offers some advice to those wishing to follow in his footsteps.

“When Reg and John started they had no cash, no office… they started at the back of a car. Who starts one of the best agencies in the world in the back of a car? You have got to start with nothing. If you start with too much and you have the biggest offices in the world you are not going to achieve much. Entrepreneurs come to me and ask for cash. Cash is the last thing. Money has four legs, man has two legs. Money will always catch up to man.”

Sound advice, indeed, from a Jewish boy from the northern suburbs, who started selling Portugese chicken in the south; and now sells Nando’s to the world.

CONTROVERSIAL

NANDO’S ADVERTS

(MOSTLY CREATED BY BLACK RIVER F.C. ADVERTISING AGENCY)

LAST DICTATOR ADVERT

The advert shows a sad Robert Mugabe dining alone at Christmas in a mansion, while he reminisces about “the good old days” with former controversial leaders. Times when he played water tag with Muammar Gaddafi; made angels in the sand with Saddam Hussein; pushed P. W. Botha on a children’s swing and drove a tank with Idi Amin, while Those Were the Days is being played.

XENOPHOBIA ADVERT

In this 60 seconds advert Nando’s aims to ridicule Xenophobia. A xenophobe says that he wishes that all foreigners would disappear from South Africa. Frame by frame South Africans from ethnic and tribal groups start disappearing until only a Khoisan remains on screen. He says, “I am not going anywhere, you found us here”.

NANDO’S CHICKEN BREAST ADVERT

A customer orders a Nando’s burger and chips, which are delivered while she is on the phone. Her breasts are so big they cover the plate. At the end of her telephone conversation she asks the waiter where her chips are. They waiter says, “Right in front of you”. She only sees the chips when the waiter pulls the plate to the center of the table.

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Entrepreneurs

Advances In Nigeria’s ‘Burglar Watch’ Industry

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The escalating safety and security issues in Nigeria raised the alarm for this innovative entrepreneur.


Today, organizations not only face escalating risks but also the certitude that they will face a security breach at any time, if proper precautions are not taken. Such was the case for Paul Ajibulu when his office premises were ransacked by thugs in Adeola Odeku, Victoria Island, Lagos.

“We had just got our office fully furnished with MacBook computers and the whole works. When we came in the next day, we found the locks broken and all the office equipment had been looted. I lost about $20,000 in all that day and that set our business back for a couple of months,” says Ajibulu.

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To solve his problems, he reached out to Extreme Mutual Technique, an automated digital systems solution and renewable energy service provider.

The company says it boasts top-tier clients such as MTN, the Embassy of Sierra Leone, South African Breweries, and Africa Finance Corporation, amongst many others.

Akpobome Ojoboh, its founder and Managing Director, is adamant his systems are a must-have for every organization in Nigeria.

“We initially started the business called Extreme Surveillance Systems limited. Coming from my previous background, we decided to focus on CCTV and digital security. Considering the fact that Nigeria was being terrorized by security mishaps, we decided to [resolve] that,” says Ojoboh.

Safety and security have never been discussed in Nigeria as they are now. Threats are from everywhere, and at all places. Routine security checking at offices and shopping mall entrances has become the norm.

The idea of preventing crime is an appealing twist in today’s times and although it’s comforting for many to imagine a competent police officer monitoring every camera in Lagos, the question remains whether CCTV systems really do prevent crimes from happening or do they merely help in nabbing a criminal once a crime has occurred.

In a city like Lagos where you have constant disruptions to power, the long-term success of these systems presented significant hurdles for Ojoboh in the early days.

“There are so many limitations to digital security vis-à-vis the lack of a proper database that even when you have [identified] the culprits, you cannot find them. Furthermore, there were limitations to how people took ownership of their equipment because there was [often] no power. So, you put a system and people say ‘what if there is no power’?”

To combat these challenges, Ojoboh decided to provide another solution, by moving into the world of inverters.

“Then again, these inverters run down when there is no power to charge them so we went into renewable energy called solar to back up our inverters and digital solutions. That is when we changed the business to Extreme Mutual Technique Limited,” says Ojoboh.

Security is one of the largest businesses in the world, according to Ojoboh.

He has seen an increase in more families opting for peace of mind by having big brother watching over their loved ones whenever they cannot be with them.

“When I first became a mum, I would always worry incessantly about my daughter left alone at home with my nanny. Then, we started noticing strange marks on my daughter and I had heard about people mistreating children they cared for but I never thought it would happen to me. I reached out to a security company to install a camera in the house and lo and behold, I saw the nanny hitting my daughter. My whole world crumbled,” says Rebecca Gyan, a grocery store owner in Accra.

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“You have to be prepared because if you are not, then you almost cannot stop any security breach. It helps you to know some proactive measures to protect yourself. If you have a CCTV system and you notice there is a particular group of people visiting your building, you will be able to notice and react,” says Ojoboh.

As organizations become familiar with probable threats and vulnerabilities, they will be able to establish both preventive measures and responsive systems, to decrease the likelihood of intruders and attacks.

Since starting out in 2007, Ojoboh has grown the team to a 40-member business spread across Lagos and Abuja. The company has also moved into IT and engineering services in the areas of energy infrastructure, home automation, fire safety and digital security solutions.

With power still an issue in Nigeria, Ojoboh sees the future of his business in the area of renewable energy to power his systems to provide that all-important peace of mind to his clients. 

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Gordon Ramsay Plots 100 US Restaurants With New Private Equity Deal

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On a given day at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, chef Gordon Ramsay’s eponymous pub and grill will make around $20,000 from fish and chips. The 1,200-square-foot space sees around 1,300 guests a day. Since debuting on the strip in 2012, Ramsay has added another location in Atlantic City.

Combined, both have sold more than 300,000 fish and chips dishes. “It’s taken the nation by storm. I look at the lines outside the door,” Ramsay told Forbes on the phone earlier this week.

His steak restaurant, which launched seven years ago at Caesars’ Paris Las Vegas Hotel, has meanwhile expanded to Atlantic City and Baltimore, luring diners with beef Wellingtons (more than 250,000 sold since 2012) and sticky toffee puddings (more than 200,000 sold).

That kind of demand needs to be taken advantage of quickly. Which is why a year ago, Ramsay started looking for a partner to help him rapidly expand these brands. “I wasn’t ready to pedal this bike up a hill on my own. That would take me another 15 years,” Ramsay says. “Let’s get this thing done.”

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And now Ramsay has inked a deal with Lion Capital, a private equity outfit with offices in London and Los Angeles, which has scaled restaurants like wagamama, the pan-Asian noodle chain, as well as brands like Kettle chips and Jimmy Cho. Lion now owns 50% of Gordon Ramsay North America, while the other 50% is controlled by Ramsay.

He declined to comment on the size of the transaction, but the deal stipulates that Lion will invest $100 million over five years to build an empire of Gordon Ramsay restaurants across America. The joint venture expects to open 100 new locations across the U.S by 2024. 

“I fell in love with this country 20 years ago. There’s a will here. My goal, right now, is to establish one of the most exciting food brands in America,” Ramsay says. “Being a control freak, I needed the right partner on board. There’s a lot of businesses that don’t like that kind of stranglehold. For me, the partnership was crucial.”

Ramsay already has eight restaurants across Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Baltimore in partnership with Caesars Entertainment. There’s five concepts in Las Vegas, of which three are brands that will be expanded through the new deal — Gordon Ramsay Steak, Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill, Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips.

“Vegas has been the most amazing platform. Everyone thinks it is just full of partying and entertainment, but it’s one of the most severe and revered culinary capitals anywhere in the world. You don’t get a second shot at it,” Ramsay says.

The restaurant concept, Gordon Ramsay Steak, launched in 2012 inside Caesar Entertainment's Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
The restaurant concept, Gordon Ramsay Steak, launched in 2012 inside Caesar Entertainment’s Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.GORDON RAMSAY STEAK

The deal will also bring two more concepts to the U.S.: Gordon Ramsay Street Pizza and Gordon Ramsay Bread Street Kitchen, which he calls “a modern Cheesecake Factory.” It already has successful locations in London, Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore. 

Ramsay is a six-time Celebrity 100 listmaker who earned $62 million last year, mainly from his television deal with Fox, in which he produces and stars in shows MasterChef, Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef Jr. as well as 24 Hours to Hell and Back.

READ MORE | From Fishing Village To Gastronomic Heaven: Tables Turn For Wolfgat

“It may seem aggressive, but we’re not opening up 80 or 90 of the same restaurant. We’re crossing over with a multilayered brand. That’s the bit that I’ve worked hard at. We’ve divided and conquered.”

Ramsay’s 15 restaurants in London won’t be impacted by the Lion Capital investment. The announcement comes just a few weeks after British chef Jamie Oliver announced that all but three of his 25 restaurants in the U.K. will close.

“It’s a very oversaturated market there, and you need to be very careful with that level of expansion. It’s unfortunate to see the situation he got himself into, but that’s what happens when you’ve got a juggernaut that’s out of control, as opposed to being in control,” Ramsay says. “I’ve sat patiently, learning from other people’s mistakes.”=

-Chloe Sorvino; Forbes Staff

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Pain, Poison And Potential

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For a man who wanted to end his life at one time, it is quite ironic that Steve Harris is today one of Nigeria’s most successful life and business strategists.


Being born into a lower middle class family is one thing; trying to make a name for yourself after dropping out of university twice is another. That is what Steve Harris, a life and business strategist and motivational speaker, fondly known as ‘Mr. Ruthless Execution’, has accomplished.

Harris learned the sinusoidal motions of the entrepreneurship journey very early in life.

At 40, he is the Chief Executive Officer of EdgeEcution, an organization that helps high performance individuals and institutions bridge the gap between their performance and potential.

Today, he is among one of the most downloaded, quoted and followed personal development trainers in Nigeria, a feat that is outstanding when you consider that he almost committed suicide before this journey even began.

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The events leading up to his worst day began to unfold when Harris gained admission into the University of Benin in Nigeria. His parents wanted him to become an engineer but his failure to attain the required grades meant he had to take the Industrial Maths class instead. That is when his emotional saga began.

“I had altercations with my lecturers and I was flunking because I was not cut out for math. I had issues with my lecturers because at the time, my department was the most corrupt department in the university and if you wanted to pass, you needed to bribe your lecturers. So they were pretty much a cartel and if you didn’t pay, you wouldn’t pass, so someone like me who at best was a C student became an F student.”

As a result, he scored 4% or 11% in his exams even when he had prepared well enough.

“I eventually got kicked out [of university] in 2004.”

Harris managed to get into a private university but this time, he was required to start all over again.

“I couldn’t go the distance and I dropped out in my seventh month. I couldn’t handle it because my mates were already working. My younger sister was also already working and I was going back to my first year of university. I started having suicidal thoughts and I couldn’t handle it anymore so I dropped out.”

Those suicidal thoughts would come back to haunt him later.

Being the first-born of three children, Harris was the one most likely to succeed. As fate would have it, his two failed attempts at university made him the black sheep of the family.

“I remember coming back home and my younger sister had graduated and my parents were super stoked, and here I am, the first child and I didn’t even get it together. Very quickly, she got a job and started earning money. She began buying things for the house and taking care of responsibilities and started giving me an allowance. I remember she gave me N10,000 ($28) and I was very grateful because I didn’t have any money,” says Harris.

“Like all African parents, my parents started complaining and reminding me about how I wasted their money and how I failed. How the children of others were working in [companies like] Shell and I was just at home.

“I would hide from friends and family members when they visited so I wouldn’t have to tell them my situation. The next month, my sister gave me N5,000 ($14) and I couldn’t ask her where the other N5,000 had gone. She was such a high-flyer that within six months, she moved into her own place and bought a car and here I am, first-born and I couldn’t even afford to buy a Christmas card,” avers Harris.

Then came the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“One day, my sister asked me to come over to her house for my monthly allowance. I went in and she had everything I wanted, she had a flat-screen TV, the whole nine yards, and I was just sitting there comparing my little sister with myself and I was thinking ‘there is no way I was ever going to catch up with her’. We were talking and in the middle of the conversation, I pissed her off and she said, ‘I am not even going to give you any more money’ and she kicked me out of her house.

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“I felt so embarrassed and ashamed and here I was, the one who everyone thought was most likely to succeed and I was being kicked out of my younger sister’s house because I didn’t have money. That messed with my mind. I remember sitting at home and I had bought rat poison. I kept thinking that it would be so much better to die than being alive and subjected to the misery I was giving my parents,” says Harris.

As he sat down with the box of poison, mentally preparing himself to end the pain and embarrassment he had brought to his family, one of his siblings walked into the house, in the nick of time.

“That is what stopped me. Then, I also found out that if you commit suicide, you will go to hell and here I am, living my own hell on earth and if I died, you are telling me I am going to be in hell forever?”

That was the wakeup call Harris so desperately needed.

He began to work his way up, starting off with volunteer jobs such as being a church driver for his pastor and also working as an office assistant with Fela Durotoye, a management consultant and recent presidential candidate of the Nigerian elections.

Harris grew through the ranks until he became a management consultant before starting off on his own entrepreneurial journey. Amid the challenges of finding his true purpose, certain thoughts came to his mind that changed his outlook towards life forever. He began asking himself: ‘why am I on this earth?’, ‘how can I make enough money to take care of myself and my family?’ and ‘how do I use my talent to help others?’

He found the answers in books on business written by authors such as Tom Peters and Michael Porter. That is when Harris first discovered he had a penchant for success.

And with his ability to overcome failure, Harris is now on a mission to empower millennials to look inward at their strengths and inner power, and with his able guidance, build brands that can beat the odds and survive, just as he did. 

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