Nigerian market-leading QSR operator Eat’N’Go has entered Kenya after the acquisition of the country’s Domino’s Pizza and Cold Stone Creamery franchises from Om Nom Nom Ltd. It will take over a network of 7 Domino’s stores in Kenya and 10 Cold Stone Creamery outlets.
Eat’N’Go has 130 outlets in Nigeria and is the fastest growing and most successful QSR operator in the country. Part of its success has been co-locating its Domino’s and Cold Stone Creamery outlets, a strategy that has also worked well for Simbisa Brands’ Pizza Inn, Chicken Inn and Creamy Inn fast food outlets.
Eat’N’Go has 3,000 employees in Africa and plans to have another 33 stores launched across Kenya and Nigeria by the end of 2021. It is a major shot across the bows of existing Kenyan QSR operators, such as Java House and Big Square, not to mention existing pizza chains such as Pizza Inn and Pizza Hut (run in Kenya by franchisee Feast Limited).
In retail, distribution and QSR, it is common to find that companies present in Nigeria have tentative plans to expand into Kenya, or vice versa. In practice, very few actually have done so. There is almost no overlap in terms of grocery retail, distribution or QSR.
For companies going from Kenya to Nigeria, the complexity and difficulties of the Nigerian market, which favour domestic companies with local connections, can be a major barrier. For companies going from Nigeria to Kenya, the greater intensity of competition and cannibalistic nature of the market can end ambitious plans for expansion.
So the move into Kenya will test Eat’N’Go ability to operate in an easier, but more sophisticated and competitive market. Its ace card will be co-location – a vital strategy that enables it to drive up spend per customer and be more efficient. This is already a feature in Kenya for the two brands – for example, they are co-located in the Fortis Towers development in Westlands, Nairobi. But it is surprisingly uncommon for other operators.