US pizza chain Papa John’s to open 60 outlets in Kenya and Uganda

The third-largest pizza delivery restaurant in the world Papa John’s International Inc’s plans to open 60 fast food outlets in Kenya and Uganda from next year, it announced Tuesday.

The American Louisville, Kentucky – based pizza chain said it will open the outlets in a partnership deal with Kitchen Express, a subsidiary of AAH Limited, the majority shareholder of Hass Petroleum Group, which operates 140 petrol stations in ten African countries.

Under the deal, Papa John’s which runs 5,500 restaurants in 50 countries, will open outlets at Hass’s properties in Kenya and Uganda starting with Nairobi.

“Establishing ourselves in Sub-Saharan Africa for the first time presents a great opportunity for Papa Johns to deliver on our…promise and continue our global momentum as a brand,” said Amanda Clark, Papa Johns chief development officer in a statement.

For Hass, the deal will help it to grow its non-fuel business. Oil marketers are increasingly seeking to attract small consumer-focused businesses to their properties, a model that is meant to bring them rental income besides boosting fuel sales.

“We are excited to partner with Papa Johns as it continues its expansion around the globe,” said Abdinasir Ali Hassan, chairman of Kitchen Express and Hass Petroleum Group in a statement.

Papa John’s was in the spotlight in 2018 after the founder and chairman of the pizza chain John Schnatter resigned, hours after being forced to apologise for using a racial slur on a conference call.

Schnatter was ousted as CEO from his company in 2018 after he made controversial comments regarding national anthem protests by NFL players, and later that same year he was recorded using the n-word racist slur during an internal sensitivity-training conference call.

By setting up in Kenya, Papa John’s which has seen rapid growth in international markets in recent years will be taking on rival international brands that have already opened in Kenya like US-based fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), McDonald’s and Burger King.

Sandwich chain Subway, ice cream seller Cold Stone Creamery, Japanese firm Toridoll and Domino’s Pizza have recently opened more stores in Kenya.

These global players are turning to emerging markets such as Africa for growth, attracted by rising disposable household incomes, fast economic growth and a young population, according to a study by McKinsey & Co.

Nairobi’s position as a hub for multiple multinationals has also attracted global restaurant chains.

In August, Papa John’s said that its international unit will open 220 locations in Latin America, Spain and Portugal. It also acquired 60 locations in the UK.

Express Kitchen Limited a subsidiary of AAH Limited, the majority shareholder of Hass Petroleum Group, which is one of the top indigenous oil marketing firms. Express Kitchen will be the franchise of UK-based Chicken Cottage Limited and international pizza brand Papa John’s.

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