The bold move extends competition to established brands – Chicken Inn, Java House and American chains Hardee’s, Burger King
Kampala, Uganda | IAN KATUSIIME | The news of Café Javas’ entry into Nairobi, East Africa’s largest capital was greeted with elation by its Ugandan patrons. Social media was inundated with messages of good wishes for the fast food chain that has been in Uganda for over eight years.
Having virtually conquered the Kampala restaurant market with seven outlets, plus one in Entebbe, Café Javas has ventured out in Nairobi, located on Koinange Street. The fast food chain is branded as CJ’s in the heart of the city.
Café Javas renowned for its dedicated service to customers plans to cash in on the bustling business environment in Nairobi with the possibility of opening up more outlets in the city.
Sources from Nairobi say the restaurant is currently very popular among the city’s elite who flock the place for meetings, catching up and its ambience and attractive décor are said to be a bonus.
Café Javas is part of the Mandela Group of Companies which also includes City Tyres, City Oil, City Lubes, City World, Savers, and Mandela Auto Spares.
Mandela Group is run by Omar Mandela, an aggressive businessman who has cut a niche for himself as someone who will stop at nothing to maximize an opportunity. Those familiar with him say he is striking at the right time for his restaurant business.
Ramathan Ggoobi, a lecturer of business studies at Makerere University Business School (MUBS) says Ugandan businesses have something to learn from Café Javas.
“We need to get as many Café Javas as possible. When you look at the competitiveness they have built, it has really developed their service to make them compete both at a regional and international level.”
He says Uganda’s biggest challenge is turning firms into competitive entities. “Businesses here should make themselves attractive to all kinds of clientele not just the next door consumer. Café Javas has built its clientele over the years and now they are on demand in the region. The next thing probably will be for them to start selling franchises.”
Ggoobi says most of these regional markets are winnable and Ugandan firms just need to focus on competitiveness. “If South African companies are here, why don’t we have Ugandan companies in South Africa? We just need to invest in competitiveness.”
Doing business in Kenya
Sitati Wasilwa, a Kenyan economist says any business venturing out in Kenya especially the consumer business needs to take note of certain things.
“Economically, Nairobi’s middle class population is on the increase, for not only basic commodities but also luxurious or semi-luxurious commodities,” he told The Independent.
Wasilwa explained that there is a growing habit among Nairobi’s middle class on spending on consumption based on influence by friends or close associates.
“This can be termed as the keeping up with the joneses effect.” However he added that Café Javas has to stock up on traditional food to strike a balance.
To compete favourably with the top notch restaurants in Nairobi such as Chicken Inn, Java House and American chains Hardee’s, Burger King, and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Wasilwa argues that the new entrant has got to be as dynamic as possible.
“Also there is a growing preference for round the clock services implying that most Nairobians prefer restaurants that can serve for many hours up to late night,” he said, adding that Café Javas needs to mark out its identity and offer suitable after sales services to customers.