Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  22 Jun 2009

VENTURES: Boerewors Gets A New Twist


Recent Western Cape Business News

TWO Capetonians are giving traditional South African street food a new twist and are planning to raise the humble boerewors roll to the heights of a standardised, quality product that is sold through a nationally franchised business chain.

Also, they reckon the business will have generated R35 million by 2010, having only started last year.

Property agent Chris Louwrens struck upon the idea of purchasing a mobile wagon and selling boerewors rolls to hungry nightclubbers after being unable to find a quick bite to eat after going clubbing one night. To Louwrens’ surprise, he made a turnover of about R20 000 in the first month of trading in April 2008 and it just started growing from there.

Realising that this was a healthy sideline business with which to supplement his income in a slow property market, Louwrens suggested to his employer Chris Tapsell, the founder of Group 3 Properties, that he should consider investing in a mobile food-vending wagon when he returned from a business trip to America.

Tapsell says he saw the possibilities of taking the idea forward on a wider scale. Aware that many consumers were reluctant to purchase boerewors rolls from street vendors because the quality of the meat could differ radically from one stall to another, he decided to create a franchise chain where customers would always be assured of a high quality product.

Building on Louwrens’s test-run of several months, the two designed a customised, eyecatching mobile wagon with fully kitted kitchenette, which could easily accommodate two people, and comprised a three-burner gas cooker, a separate warmer plate, a sink with a 25-litre water container, a stainless steel counter, storage shelves, a till drawer and a drop safe.

Tapsell, Louwrens and Barbara Rieder, the third partner in the ‘Boerie King’ enterprise, then negotiated a deal with Pick n Pay and other reputable supermarket chains to provide meat for their franchisees at special prices. “One of the few unbendable rules of the operation is that franchisees must purchase meat only from our preferred suppliers to ensure that every bite of the half ton of meat that each wagon uses on average every month is of the same quality,” says Tapsell, now CEO of the company.

The Boerie King franchise is also flexible as franchisees may add any items they wish to the simple core menu of boerewors rolls, Boerie burgers (a patty made of boerewors meat), and beverages supplied by Coca-Cola, which has branded the trailers and will give franchisees access to its sponsored events.

Boerie King can adapt the kitchenette to accommodate a deep fryer, if a franchisee chooses, so that additional items like hot chips or samoosas can be sold. It has also just completed deals to enable vendors to sell prepaid electricity and prepaid airtime for all major cellphone services.

Franchisees have lots of scope in terms of where to ply their trade. The slimline 550kg trailer can be towed by car to shopping centres, major events such as bike rallies and arts festivals, beaches, or any other locations where plentitudes of people gather.

Louwrens says that while permission is required from landowners or the municipality to trade on private or public land, this is usually easily obtained. If not, the vendor can simply apply for permission to set up shop at a different location, then hitch up his wagon and move to that spot.

Tapsell adds that Boerie King, which aims to put 500 wagons (at R70 000 a throw) on the road by the end of 2010, is already registered as a potential food supplier for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and already has a franchisee servicing Loftus Versfeld. This will allow selected franchisees into events where they can provide visitors with a taste of traditional South African fast foods.

Tapsell says although the Boerie King franchise was only launched last December, it has already attracted encouraging interest from people seeking an opportunity to go into business for themselves. Tapsell says 14 franchises have already been sold in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Botswana, and deals are currently being negotiated with franchisees in Ghana, Namibia and Swaziland.

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