US fast-food chain eyes Kenya with franchise deal

A KFC outlet in Nairobi. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NMG
A KFC outlet in Nairobi. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NMG 

American fast-food chain, Mr. Pretzel, is set to enter the Kenyan market in a franchise deal with a local firm.

The company is seeking regulatory approval to open shop in partnership with Snackbyte Company Limited, a Kenyan baker.

Snackbyte has sought exemption from Kenyan competition law to enter a franchise agreement that will give it exclusive rights to develop and operate Mr. Pretzel outlets.

Most Mr. Pretzel kiosks are located in malls.

Snackbyte said the Kenyan market, with its mushrooming malls and middle class, is ripe for the US brand’s entry.

“Kenya is the first country in Africa. This is buoyed by the economy and the middle class who have growing taste for quality products,” said Snackbyte director Paul Asamba.

Mr. Pretzel is a 23-year-old company with a presence in 18 countries, including the United Kingdom, Brazil and Mexico. Its 200 kiosks specialise in selling pretzels, baked foods of European origin that are usually shaped like knots.

Mr Asamba recently left a job as Barclays’ head of business support and corporate recoveries to run Snackbyte.

Under the franchise agreement, Snackbyte will be the exclusive seller of Mr. Pretzel products in Kenya for a decade.

Kenya’s fast food market has been expanding rapidly over the past few years as local and international brands step up their investment.

The country has seen the entry of such international brands as Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Hardees, Burger King, Dominos and Cold Stone Creamery. Most of these companies have revealed plans to expand over the next few years.

Mr Asamba said he was confident that Mr.Pretzel will compete with other companies “because the company is targeting a niche in the ‘grab-and-go’ food market where there are no similar products.”