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INTERVIEW: Uganda giving fast food firms a new spin

 

James Ouma is the operations manager Pizza Hut Uganda. He spoke to The Independent’s Agnes E Nantaba about the country’s fast food industry and the future prospects.

What are the key elements in your management philosophy as a manager?

Pizza Hut as an international brand is driven by key performance indicators in its operations gauge the standards.  Each single day has its own programmes and as a manager, I am in touch with all the branch general managers every morning for an update of the status of all branches. This is to ensure that our brand identity remains strong in the provision of our products and services.

We have also invested a lot in information and communication technology enabling us do most of our work online.  What we have also done is that upon any recruitment, we train teams such that we don’t just continue hiring managers from outside but promote from within. This is because those within the company are well conversant with the operations. Above all, we are all hands-on.  We work in teams with an aim of providing quality products and services to our customers.

What is your assessment of the performance of the Uganda’s hospitality industry with more focus on fast foods?

Uganda is still virgin in the fast foods industry and many players are failing to make it happen because of lack of commitment and teams training. At the same time, people don’t appreciate working in the hospitality industry, a key area being restaurants.  We observed this at the time of recruitment where most of the applicants were females. Digging deeper to establish the cause, we discovered that men don’t value working in the industry in Uganda compared with other countries in the region such as Kenya. This perception, however, may be hard to change especially where it is driven by culture yet this industry equally pays well. This industry also need employers to always monitor the operations of their businesses to ensure that high quality is maintained to attract more customers.

What has been your experience in the country?

Uganda has a conducive environment to do business but this comes with competition with the local brands. The only challenge with international brands is that they source raw materials outside the country making costs of production higher as compared with the local firms.

However, we are also working hard to start sourcing materials locally in order to bring down operational costs so we can compete favorably with the local outlets. Our biggest advantage is the standards and consistency of our products and services to our customers.

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