For a local business to tackle the continent is not easy. Understanding new target markets, competitors, local culture, labour and skills development, the political environment, and currency are a number of the issues faced by the bold and courageous who take the leap. In last year’s Brand Africa 100 survey, it was found that African brands accounted for 23% of the most valuable brands on the continent, with South Africa’s MTN and DSTV topping the list in first and second place. That being said Nigeria held 6 of the top ten spots.
Overall, the top five admired brands on the continent were MTN, Samsung, Coca-Cola, Nike, and Adidas.
As Starbucks makes its way into South Africa to start its foray onto the continent, local coffee kingpin, vida e caffè has set its sights on Africa. With 185 stores across the country, of which a significant number are positioned on Shell forecourts, the brand has been exploding locally, and now plans to push itself further into Africa.
Announcing their development plans in four African countries, the homegrown coffee brand is experiencing a sharp uptake in international interest. Starting in 2012 in Mauritius, the brand now has 17 stores in Mauritius, Kenya, Ghana and Namibia with the additional four in the pipeline before the end of the year.
Explains Craig Gravett, vida’s Business Development Manager for International & Corporate, “Africa is an emerging market and we noted some significant opportunities with partners in Africa, that had originally been based in South Africa, and were wanting to see how it might work outside of the country.”
The brand’s Africa stores are not owned or operated by vida e caffè, and are all franchises with a joint venture partner or master franchisee. Management teams then visit South Africa to go through the full training which includes employing a set of Standard Operating Procedures and audited standards, while Gravett visits the region on a regular basis, assesses training and new product development needs.
“Understanding that each country and culture is unique is imperative. As just one example, while coffee is traditionally perceived as a morning thing, in Ghana it’s an evening past-time with the majority of stores trading to 10pm and 11pm at night. Then of course, there’s the approach to staff and labour and each skill set is different, plus working with what is available locally and import and export. The recipe is simple but hard to get right – strong working relationships with the right partner in the right region.”
Gravett adds, “Store layouts are very similar to the SA market, as all designs are signed off here, and often the store is manufactured in SA as it’s sometimes tailor made to the environment. The mall stores are similar to the high street, while some sit on the forecourt. We need to understand the audience first, so we apply an 80/20 principle. 80% has to be produced and then we allow an element of local product based on availability in country.”
vida’s most popular African store to date is Bagatelle in Port Louis, Mauritius. with Ghana and Mauritius being the 2 biggest growth regions. The balance of stores is Namibia with 2 stores, Kenya with 4 stores, Ghana 7 stores and Mauritius 4 stores, with two new stores to be opened this year in both Ghana and Mauritius.
vida e caffè has adopted a forward-thinking business model in a highly competitive environment, blending high street outlets with forecourt stores, Africa expansion and recently a drive into SA’s corporates.
“There’s no secret that our environment is hotting up. But we have been strategically planning ahead for several years and our hard work is really coming to fruition. We have the first mover advantage in a number of new business development areas. It’s exciting to be involved with a South African brand that continually adapts as things evolve.”