The Brand of Brands
A restaurant group dedicated to bringing the best F&B brands and concepts to Africa, Eat’N’Go feeds your needs.
Writer Chris Farnell
Project Manager Jason Gilkes
Food is big business and in a crowded marketplace few things are more valuable than a recognisable brand. Having a strong brand means customers know exactly what to expect when they buy your products, as well attaching a certain amount of cultural cachet to the food you sell. This is why Eat’N’Go is in such an excellent market position. They have built the brand that other brands choose to market their franchises to Nigeria, as well as elsewhere in Africa.
Jean-Claude Meyer is the CEO of Eat’N’Go. “We are a company set to deliver our brands to Nigeria and the West Coast of Africa,” he tells us. “We currently have ten outlets open, and we hope to build another six or seven next year.” He sees the company’s potential lying in its ability to bring widely known international brands into its own markets.
“We are bringing international brands to the African continent,” Meyer says. “The African consumer is attracted to these brands because we’re constantly seeing them in our imported media. You see these brands on TV all the time but they are rarely available, so we bring these brands here.”
Having access to these brands is important to Eat’N’Go, which describes its mission as being “to become the premier food operator in Africa”. The company entered the Nigerian market in September last year, with promises that they would bring with them the very best in food and beverages. Today it has delivered on this promise by successfully rolling out the globally recognised brands Cold Stone Creamery and Domino’s Pizza.
Eat’N’Go celebrated this announcement on the mark of their one year anniversary with a grand opening for their mainland flagship store at Toyin Street, Ikeja. It was an all star event, featuring Nigerian celebrity Taymilistic Taymi as the master of ceremonies and guests taking part in sing-a-longs of brand jingles and chants. The event was attended by representatives from Domino’s Pizza International, including the brand’s vice president, Eric Anderson, and his peer, Brian Richard, vice president of Cold Stone Creamery International, members of the Eat’N’Go Africa board, the Eat’N’Go Africa team as well as a host of journalists, advertisers and other distinguished personalities. Most of all, the celebration featured lots and lots of ice cream and pizza. And by ice cream and pizza, we mean ice cream and pizza that is known and loved across the world.
Domino’s Pizza can trace its history back to a small pizza store in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1960. By 1989 there were over 5,000 stores across the U.S. Today that number has doubled to over 10,000 Domino’s Pizza stores in countries around the globe, of which Nigeria is the latest. When Domino’s decided to enter the Nigerian market, they were pleased to find a company like Eat’N’Go to represent them.
At the launch event Ritch Allison, Domino’s Pizza International’s executive vice president said, “Establishing ourselves in this emerging West African country presents a great opportunity for our business, and continues our global momentum as a brand. We have a great operator in Eat’N’Go – their knowledge of the business landscape will be instrumental in making Domino’s Pizza the leading pizza brand in Nigeria.” Meanwhile Eat’N’Go is also introducing the Cold Stone Creamery to Nigeria. This company was founded by married couple Don and Susan Sutherland in 1988 with one store in Tempe, Arizona. The Cold Stone Creamery brand aims to go beyond merely selling ice cream. Their mission statement includes the ambitious goal “We will make people happy.” The brand now has over 1,400 stores in countries all over the planet, now including Nigeria as well, thanks to Eat’N’Go.
But why do these internationally recognised brands come to Eat’N’Go rather than entering the market themselves? A big part of the reason is that Eat’N’Go has the knowledge to deal with some of the very specific challenges of doing business in Nigeria. “The biggest challenge in Africa is the supply chain, and in Nigeria there is a lack of infrastructure, which is a real challenge when it comes to meeting our needs for electricity and water,” Meyer explains. “When it comes to our supply chain we’ve learned the hard way and we need to think about six months ahead in all our dealings. Meanwhile, when we encounter infrastructure problems we do what everyone in Nigeria does, provide our own electricity and water to make up for the shortfall.”
That local knowledge is combined with an intimate knowledge of the food service industry. They are already bringing Nigeria the best in food service from quick service and fast casual restaurants. Their outlets sell pizza, ice cream, coffee and more. They do this while still keeping their food affordable, providing dining options for consumers of all types and every sector of the market with a diverse range of dining concepts. What’s more, Eat’N’Go manages this while maintaining a keen sense of social responsibility, creating jobs for their local community and empowering people to enhance their quality of life.
However, applying for a job with Eat’N’Go isn’t quite like applying for any other job in the food service industry. They don’t just want the right skills – they want the right personality as well. “Our recruitment process is a bit different” Meyer admits. “We have auditions, not interviews. Also retention is not a problem, once people are onboard we give them plenty of opportunities to develop their careers. We have a well structured training programme adopted from our brands.”
Of course, for Eat’N’Go, this is just the beginning. “We’re looking to expand our reach within Nigeria” Meyer says. “In 2014, we’re also looking at entering new markets with our brands.