Africa’s Fastest Growing Catering Company
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Joshua Mann
Integrated Catering Company Limited - owner of the brand name, The Promise - is a wholly indigenous Company incorporated in Nigeria as a Limited Liability entity since 2000. On the official website, the Company recounts its remarkable success story: “At the onset in July, 2002, we officially commissioned and opened the first outlet of The Promise as a business, at 30 Aggrey Road, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.”
“Our profile [since then] has been on a steady rise, providing satisfying and wholesome meals to our numerous customers in the metropolitan city of Port Harcourt and beyond,” Chief Executive Officer, Oluwatoyin Alabi adds.
The Promise’s meteoric rise to prominence as a catering giant in Nigeria has been achieved off the back of unrivalled entrepreneurship. This same commitment is set to take the business to even greater heights in the lead up to 2020, as it looks to diversify and expand even further. Comprised of fast food, restaurant and industrial catering - under the parent name of Integrated Catering Company Limited (ICCL) - the indigenous Group has carved a niche as a foremost player across major markets in the country.
With precise application of hospitality acumen, consumer trend awareness, and food service expertise, the evolution of The Promise has been substantial, boasting more than 30 outlets of varying sizes.
“From the get-go, The Promise has recognised the importance of operating in a safe, clean and hygienic environment, in accordance with the WHO/NAFDAC Safety/Health Act. We are committed to operational excellence in food quality, preparation and presentation,” notes Alabi.
Forearmed with the experience of successfully handling a number of offshore and remote sites’ catering operations for major oil & gas companies in Nigeria, “Integrated Catering Company has done a considerable number of outdoor and industrial catering services for notable, high net-worth individuals and corporate clients alike”, Alabi continues.
“Across both sides though, it is most important that we stick to our core values because these values define our character, and our character is a representation of the Company. These values are a fine blend of spirituality, integrity, loyalty, prudence, teamwork and gratitude; collectively driven by a passion for excellence which has been our main motivation over the years.”
Fast food with a strategy
Serving a niche demand among its customers, The Promise has been able to find gaps in the consumer market on a regular basis since inception, making the feel of its restaurants and fast food chains, especially, conducive to a range of targeted demographics.
In particular, the family demographic is being catered for via its ever-evolving menu, (with respect to occasion and lifestyle choices), and the Company envisions what each and every age and gender of consumer may want to eat at a chain such as The Promise.
“It has been fast food with a strategy,” Alabi affirms. “We focus on the needs of our customers and then create a menu that would appeal to all of them and their family members exclusively. And by the grace of God, this has worked and we are still improving on our offers, without resting on our oars.
“We are always improving our menu, but beyond that, we do so in line with our key drivers, namely quality, service and cleanliness. These traits demonstrate our commitment to health & safety.”
The latter has been an ongoing dedication critical to achieving the Company’s goals in establishing itself as a reputable and reliable service provider, not just a provider judged by its elegant menu. That’s not to say food quality isn’t just as important, but balancing these three facets is a skill that Alabi attributes to the levels of consistency evident within the business; a necessity that he believes stems from a strong internal structure.
“We have set up a quality team within our systems - our laboratory, our factory and all of our restaurants - to ensure that quality is consistent,” he emphasises. “Standardisation is also important to this end, and we therefore have made a lot of internal investments into technologies and automations to make sure that our teams have the best equipment to work with, and our customers get the best quality products possible.”
Upon the creation of this brand 17 years ago, The Promise made a decisive effort to ensure that the right people would be put in place to take the Company forward; driven by a localisation strategy to enable sustainable, indigenous development long into the future.
And naturally, as the business flourished over the intervening years, The Promise’s role as an employer of choice has also come into its own.
“Recruitment is a very dynamic department here, and the process is thorough to ensure we hire the best people for the Company,” Alabi says. “First they are sent for medical certification before induction, and then they are given training within the workplace. Hands-on training is important, and once they are hired, they can also be moved to different outlets depending on what is needed.”
The initial recruitment process involves a comprehensive filtering of applications, whereby the Company must look through - on average - 150 online applications in order to attain 20 new, aspiring members of staff.
As a millennium development goal (MDG)-adherent brand, The Promise is also a gender sensitive employer that promotes gender equality and equal opportunity in its employment consideration.
“Recruitment is very localised and we receive applications from all of our locations on a daily basis to help this strategy,” the CEO continues. “We then repay this through our commitment to training them, which helps us grow the talent pool and our business in general.
“The same strategy is applied to our supply chain, where I would say 90 percent of our raw materials are sourced locally from local markets. We have been praised for our localisation and our corporate social responsibility and this is also seen through our work with youths; helping to send them to school via scholarships and grants, we also participate and collaborate with our host communities through support projects to improve living standards in the communities.”
So far, so good
“What sets us apart and what is unique about The Promise, is our range of products, services and quality,” says Alabi. “A typical example of this is with our premium loaf of bread. People come from far and near, just to buy The Promise Premium Loaf”.
The brand has become a guaranteed choice of partner and restaurateur as it continues to dig deeper into the industrial domain; finding more and more market-leading companies to unveil its kitchen services to; and expand its presence in the country, soaring beyond what Alabi had hoped for when he first struck upon the idea 26 years ago.
In December, 2009, The Promise begun franchising, providing a platform for tremendous wealth creation. The first franchise outlet was opened in Omoku, Rivers State. This franchise offer is a celebrated vista of opportunity for discerning investors, a well thought out investment plan that has also provided several employment possibilities, and improved the local economy. The Promise Franchise proudly carries the seal of international endorsement by the prestigious International Franchise Association (IFA).
“While The Promise is planning an additional 100 outlets in the future, with 2020 a reasonable target, a big plan for Lagos and Abuja is around our kitchen services for multinational industrial companies”, the CEO states. “We’re now looking for funding partners to be able to achieve this, and over the next five years, our turnover will increase through these additional assets to an achievable target of $25million(USD).