Big plans for Burger King after SA opening

Malls are “bending over backwards to have us there” – Hassen Adams.


Burger King opens on Thursday, in Cape Town

Potentially six restaurants will be launched by the end of the year, two of which could be in Johannesburg

120 stores targeted

A factory is being built in Elsies River, to supply meat for the whole of sub-Saharan Africa


HILTON TARRANT: Well, the Big Whopper will be available in South Africa on Thursday, the first Burger King opens in Cape Town. Hassen Adams, chairman of JSE-listed Grand Parade Investments, the company bringing the American hamburger chain to the country, joins us. Hassen, have you learnt a lot about selling hamburgers since we last spoke in November?

HASSEN ADAMS: Ja, look, it’s absolutely amazing what we’ve achieved down here, we’ve got the CEO of Burger King International, the international CEO here, and he says it’s one of the best stores he’s seen in the world. So it’s really unbelievable, you must see it to believe it, we’ve got two floors and it looks like a substantial improvement on Leicester Square in London and the burgers are just amazing. I’m just absolutely gobsmacked with the quality of the burgers, it’s exactly the same as what you get anywhere else in the world.

HILTON TARRANT: Hassen, that first Burger King opens on Thursday at noon at 33 Heerengracht that’s pretty close to the Civic Centre down in Cape Town, practically exactly six months to the day since the announcement that you were bringing Burger King to the country…

HASSEN ADAMS: Correct, ja.

HILTON TARRANT: …how many restaurants by the end of the year?

HASSEN ADAMS: Look, by the end of the year we should have about six up and running, more or less, ja. We want to try and get at least two drive-throughs done still in this year but those are the big ones where you start to have to do a lot of construction work and so on. There are two, one in Tyger Valley that’s opening about a month after this one or six weeks after this one and one in Cavendish that will also open about the same time, more or less. We’re looking at one in GrandWest Casino, which will also open up very soon, when I say very soon, within the next two to three-month period. Then there are the two drive-throughs that we want to open before the end of the year, which is a mean ask but we’ve opened this store within six months. This is a huge store, this is a magnificent store, it’s got two floors and the kids will love it, it’s got all sorts of new innovative play areas and it’s really, really amazing. The team has done a great job here.


Joburg, Durban expansion


HILTON TARRANT: Hassen, what about Joburg and Durban, obviously all of these stores in the first phase focused on Cape Town to take us to the end of the year.

HASSEN ADAMS: Ja, look, we have said that we must get it right here in Cape Town first, okay, and hopefully by the end of the year we should have one or two stores open in Johannesburg too.


Product quality


HASSEN ADAMS: Our big thing is that we want to make quite sure that we maintain the excellence of product and we train people to be Burger King minded, let’s call it that. I don’t want to go into any area and just willy-nilly open franchisees and so on. I’ve seen it with some of my other businesses where – and in other people’s businesses – where you just grab franchisees everywhere where they’re retired school teachers and whatever. It becomes a nightmare to maintain the quality of the product. We have made a decision that we will take Burger King to the wire to first of all maintain the excellence in product and from a staff point of view to introduce the training, which makes them the best. I’ve seen it with the gaming industry, with Sun International how they do it and that’s why they can operate the best casinos in this country and elsewhere in the world. It’s all about people and product, and that’s what we’re investing here, we’re investing in people to ensure that the quality and the excellence of the product is maintained.


The Grand Parade team


HILTON TARRANT: Hassen, you’ve got a team running this business, Jaye Sinclair brought in, he’s a retail specialist. Is it a big team running the business at head office?

HASSEN ADAMS: Well, can I just tell you, Jaye used to be my CEO when I chaired Retail Corp, which is all the restaurants that we sold to Dubai, the Squires Group, Leonardo’s, Bella Gina’s, etc and he’s a great friend of mine, and he’s doing an excellent job in the way that he’s actually just motivated people around him. I think that he’s built a team, which is absolutely awesome.

You’ll see if you pop in here on Thursday it’s an unbelievable team and the nice thing about Burger King here in Cape Town is that we’re now in our new offices, this is our building, 33 Heerengracht, it’s a landmark in Adderley Street next to the square and we’ve left open a large space for training and providing all sorts of curricula for new people in Burger King. So it’s a huge component of Burger King by introducing all these people to the training programmes here.


Training, job-creation, franchising


HASSEN ADAMS: This will be the station where everybody will be trained, even for Johannesburg and Durban when we get there. But it won’t be long now for us to get into Johannesburg and Durban because the foundation is set here and we’re also starting with a huge initiative in terms of the supply and support stuff for Burger King. Like for instance the manufacturing, Mac Brothers has geared them up for manufacturing all the equipment, as far as the meat supply  we’re building a factory in Elsies River where Excellent Meat are to be able to cope with the demand for the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. So it’s exciting times, exciting in the sense that it’s a huge investment from a Cape Town point of view and also in creating jobs we should be creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs but I want to do it in a way where we do it responsibly. I don’t want to go and just willy-nilly open stores for the sake of opening stores, it’s bigger for me, it’s about creating a legacy. I’ve done this with Grand Parade Investments and I think the same thing will apply with Burger King. We won’t go and do things irresponsibly, it must be a sustainable process that we embark on in terms of people and product.

HILTON TARRANT: This first phase are all company-owned stores and you have invited franchise applications…

HASSEN ADAMS: We will invite franchise applications but they must comply with our rules and the procedures and the process that we will put in place. So it’s going to be a very strict process so that we’re guaranteed quality of product and sales and service efficiency. So the company has made a decision to roll out a lot of stores on their own first and thereafter or while we’re doing that we’ll introduce some franchisees that are willing to walk this road with us.


Shopping centre demand


HILTON TARRANT: In terms of landlords you told us a couple of months ago that landlords were calling you on the back of the original announcement and just looking at two of your sites, Tyger Valley, Cavendish, those are blue chip shopping malls down in Cape Town. Are landlords still very interested in getting Burger King?

HASSEN ADAMS: I can’t tell you how many landlords and shopping centres have approached us and I can’t talk about an initiative because we’ve just come to a huge agreement with a very big group who want to roll out 120 of these stores. So it’s unbelievable how people have come to us and the demand for Burger King has been great, absolutely great. So all the big shopping centres have come to us throughout South Africa and we will start to populate them with Burger Kings. But I don’t want to just throw a Burger King in it, it must make a statement. So these big shopping centres will have a Burger King with a statement like you see here at our head office where we’ve started the first one. In Cape Town alone we’ll be in virtually every big shopping centre, in Johannesburg I can’t tell you, it’s unbelievable, it’s incredible the amount of people that have already put their names on our books. Durban, we will be in the biggest shopping centres, they will bend over backwards to have us there. When they see this store I tell you they’ll even have a bigger appetite for Burger King.


The menu


HILTON TARRANT: Hassen, just to close off with, the menu that customers can expect at the store on Thursday and at your other stores as they open, is that the same burger menu that is pretty much all around the world, the same kind of one that you’ll get in the UK?

HASSEN ADAMS: It’s a bit early for me to eat a burger but I’ve just had half a Whopper, it’s amazing. It is absolutely amazing at the variety of different style burgers, you can have Whoppers with meat, you can have it with fish, you can have it with chicken, you can even have a bean burger, which is my favourite. You can make your own burger that’s what Burger King is about, making your own burger, you can tell them what you want on it. Very soon, within the next couple of months, we’ll come up with new apps for burgers and so on. It’s an exciting venture, it’s not just a boring I want a burger and I want chicken, no, no, we want to make it exciting and innovative and people will really enjoy it. So it’s something new and it’s something great, it’s like saying to you that the best in burgers are here now in South Africa, this is the real thing, forget about all the other stuff that you see and read about, this is the real thing, this is the real burger that was the flame grilled burger that in the 1950s, in the early ‘50s and it’s here in South Africa for the first time. So don’t be fooled by all the other imitations, this is the real thing, you’re now going to taste the real burger and that’s Burger King.

HILTON TARRANT: Hassen, I’ll be sure to check out your store at the end of the month when I’m down in Cape Town. Hassen Adams, chairman of…

HASSEN ADAMS: I’m not going to even ask you to phone me, you must just come and see for yourself because I don’t want to even prepare myself for your visit here, you will see the service that we’ll give you is the service that we give to everybody else.

HILTON TARRANT: Hassen, a pleasure. Hassen Adams, chairman of Grand Parade Investments. 


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