These are the biggest fast food franchises in South Africa

South Africa’s fast food franchise landscape has had a great 12 months, with at almost 230 new franchise chains among the biggest brands opening in 2018 compared to last year.

While fast food may not be all that healthy, the business of fast food certainly is, with reports noting that the sector is one of the largest contributors to all franchise turnover, and is expected to continue to grow.

But looking at the numbers of South Africa’s various fast food franchises, it’s clear that it’s not all good news for everyone, with certain chains experiencing big declines in the number of stores they have opened in 2018.

Big brands – KFC, Steers and Nando’s, etc – have recorded double-digit openings since the 2017 count.

Newer local franchises like Burger King, Krispy Kreme, Pizza Hut have also shown steady growth.

However, troubled waters have also led to several closures, particularly with the ChesaNyama chain, which lost 42 stores since the 2017 count. Other brands that saw closures include 1+1 Pizza, Maxis, and a few single store closures in chains like Barcelo’s and Mochachos.

Most popular stores in 2018

The list of top fast food franchises has not shifted, with the top five franchises in country led by KFC, Steers, Debonairs, Wimpy and Nando’s. The only big change is Debonairs’ shift to being the third largest franchise, having added 73 more outlets.

In total we counted 4,801 stores in the country – including counts from two franchises we added to the list (Popeyes and Cinnabon), and excluding Chicken Licken, which would not tell us how many stores it has in the country.

The last reported number of Chicken Licken branches was around 240 stores (2016), but an updated figure could not be confirmed.

Nando’s, which is also historically been silent when it comes to its numbers, confirmed that it currently has plus-or-minus 340 franchises in South Africa – which is up from the figure of 300, which was used as the ballpark in previous years.

In normalised terms, (counting only the stores that were included in both 2017 and 2018’s list), there were a total of 4,776 fast food stores in the country – a net addition of 228 stores from 4,548 in 2017.

The graph below outlines the biggest fast food franchises in South Africa. The numbers are based on official numbers from brand holders, where applicable, and physical counts of stores based on store locators on each respective website. Where chains have confirmed branches opening, these have been included in the tally. Chicken Licken has been excluded.

SA’s favourite type of fast food

South Africa’s preferred food has always been a fight between chicken and burgers, with pizza coming in third. In 2018, the number of burger joints has passed chicken, despite KFC’s large impact – however, this is because Chicken Licken’s indeterminate position has been left out.

Including the ‘historic’ Chicken Licken tally of 240 would push chicken to the top of the pile.

The graph below includes the total tally including Chicken Licken, if only to not understate the popularity of chicken in the South African fast food market. Even though we cannot confirm the actual number, it’s pretty obvious that it’s a big and popular franchise.


Read: How much it costs to open the 10 most popular fast food franchises in South Africa

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These are the biggest fast food franchises in South Africa