Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge owner targets 100 restaurants overseas

Center Parcs, Bella Italia

Casual Dining Group (CDG), the operator of nearly 300 mid-market restaurant brands including Café Rouge, Bella Italia and Las Iguanas, has agreed a landmark franchising deal that will see a minimum 20 restaurants open across South Africa in the next five years with Gold Brands Investments.

Gold Brands, which is based in Pretoria and listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s AltX board, operates five restaurant brands of its own, including 1+1 Pizza, Chicken Wild Wings and Chesanyama, which features dishes cooked on a braai; Afrikaans for grill.

The company says it wants to offers customers ‘unique and authentic brands’, and aims to become South Africa’s leading franchise company.

Founded by Stelio Nathanael and his wife, Praxia, in 2012, Gold Brands has more than 330 restaurants across South Africa’s nine provinces, including the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Kwazulu-Natal, and is described as a ‘major player’ in the country’s restaurant sector.

CDG said its new has a “similar ethos” to itself and confirmed that Gold Brands Investments will exclusively introduce Bella, Café Rouge, Las Iguanas and Belgo outlets to South Africa, with the first scheduled to open by the end of this year.

The move is in line with CDG’s overseas franchising strategy, which has already seen it open a restaurant in each of India and Dubai, with a further restaurant under construction in Saudi Arabia.

The group is exploring further franchising opportunities in the UAE, the Far East, Europe and North Africa.

Mark Nelson, CDG managing director of concessions and franchising, said: “South Africa hadn’t been part of our three-phase franchising strategy, until we were contacted by Stelio and we quickly identified a great opportunity, and both parties moved to agree the deal. The social demographic and cultural fit between our restaurants, South African consumers’ diet, plus the country’s acceptance of casual dining, means it is a very exciting market for us.”

Nelson said the deal also complements its franchising plans in other overseas locations, particularly North Africa, and will help it achieve its initial target of 100-plus overseas outlets, as it continue to seek other partners interested in franchise agreements.

Stelio Nathanael, Gold Brands COO, said: “We went to CDG because we saw their restaurant businesses as being perfect for the market here, with customers always looking for new dining experiences. CDG’s restaurants fit, too, with Gold Brands’ existing brand portfolio. We’ll work closely with CDG to localise the outlets, and will use our experience and local market knowledge to ensure we put the right restaurants in the right locations.”

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