Nando’s continues to be driven by values, people and growth

Rupkatha Bhowmick

South African restaurant chain Nando’s opened a new branch in the UAE at the Waterfront Promenade in The Dubai Mall. Nando’s 22nd Casa in the UAE is located on the lower ground level of the shopping mall. The 3,400 sqft space accommodates 100 seats indoor and 60 outdoor.

Highlighting a deep Afro-Portuguese heritage, the restaurant sports an urban yet warm look-and-feel, owing to the cocoon-style timber work on the walls, leather seats and warm lights. Handmade South African furniture pieces designed by Dokter and Misses accentuate the ambience. The restaurant also houses oversized chandeliers hand-woven by South African artisans as well as beautiful art pieces.

With a 1,270-plus store network across 24 markets, currently, Nando’s is focused on entrenching and expanding its presence in existing and new markets over the next five years. Within existing markets, the plan is to continue growing the brand presence. Globally, the focus will be on expanding the US footprint, while entering other markets. Nando’s recently opened in Kenya.

Nando’s, The Dubai Mall

From facts and figures about the Nando’s business, let’s turn focus on some humanistic facts about the brand and its founders.

Naturally, any discussion about a restaurant brand must begin with food! Nando’s co-founders – Fernando Duarte and Robert Bozrin – eat at the restaurant almost every day. Closer home, people working at the head office in Nando’s UAE have lunch at the Sheikh Zayed Road branch every day.

“If your people don’t enjoy your food, they won’t be able to share that love for our food with diners. It has to be an inside-out culture,” Brozin and Duarte stressed.

Secret behind the ‘PERi-PERi’ popularity

“Our chillies – African bird’s eye – are kissed by the African sun, grown in southern Mozambique. We’ve got farmers that grow chillies for us. We collaborate with farmers across southern Africa, while also managing one farm of our own. That’s our big secret!” Brozin revealed. “The harsher you treat the chillies, the hotter they become. If they aren’t watered properly, when the sun hits them and bakes them, they become hotter. It’s almost like the Nando’s story – the harder it was for us, the more we shone.”

Keeping people at heart

Today, Nando’s is a global brand that has evolved significantly over the past 32 years. But at heart, Nando’s continues to be a values-based organisation. It is an organisation that values its employees. Small wonder, thus, employees spend a lot of time with Nando’s.

“We recently issued certificates to some of our employees who completed 30 years with us. We have a business unit in South Africa that hasn’t seen a single staff leave in the last four years,” averred Duarte. “If these people didn’t value our organisation, they wouldn’t have stayed with us.”

Supporting communities

Going beyond its own people, Nando’s also supports the South African communities. The Nando’s Casa in The Dubai Mall houses some beautiful art pieces as well as handwoven décor – all made by artisans in South Africa. “At the moment, Nando’s is one of the biggest holders of South African contemporary art in the world. All of our restaurants are essentially galleries for all our art pieces,” emphasised Nando Duarte, design & development director for Nando’s licensed markets.

“We work with an organisation called Spier Arts Trust to be able to obtain pieces of art. Our art curators go to different rural areas to scout for up-and-coming artists, offering them the right mediums to create great art pieces. The Dubai Mall Nando’s, for example, houses three large art pieces by South African artist Dion Cupido alongside a selection by other artists from the Spier Arts Trust,” he elaborated.

“Nando’s acts as a platform to showcase art created by over 300 artists. We buy from them and also provide them with tools and techniques to be successful,” Brozin and Duarte pointed out.