Nkukhu Box is the brainchild of Itumeleng Mpatlanyana, a budding foodpreneur who set out to fill a niche market e’Kasi, establishing a high quality grilled chicken franchise true to an authentic township experience. With stores that hold great structural design and simplicity, the approach is delightfully quirky. These small idiosyncrasies are helping to set them apart from immediate business competition.
Why the township market?
Nkukhu Box has been created to embrace African flavours, culture, lifestyle and fashion through food. All other big brands within the fast food industry have their origin stories to tell and these are shared with the world. It is time to have our own African brand telling our colourful stories to the world. Nkukhu Box is a true South African township brand that focus on authentic Kasi taste. There has also been a notion that products or services coming out of the township are sub standard. Our focus is to be a prime mover of quality, setting us apart from traditional township take-away restaurants.
What brought about the idea of starting Nkukhu Box?
I initially started my own fast food franchise brand called Spykos Foods, in 2011. This idea came about taking the traditional township chisa nyama ‘meat of the grill’ concept, the traditional cafe fish & chips and Durban curry bunny chow; branding it and setting it up in major shopping centres. ‘Spykos Chisa Nyama’, ‘Spykos Fish & Chips’ and ‘Spykos Bunny Chow’ brand names were born. At one point we had 40 stores nationally. Several years later most of the stores started closing down due to several operational misfortunes, main factors being escalating shopping centre rentals, competition, bad store locations, some not so well skilled franchisees and lack of adequate infrastructure at franchisor level.
The Nkukhu Box business model came about seeking solutions to the business problems I had experienced in the past. I wanted to develop a business model that is targeted at a specific market area and market demographics. A business model that does not rely on major shopping centre landlords to decide if they want to give you prime location in their malls or not; a business model where a big portion of your revenue does not have to go towards ridiculous rental amounts that still escalate 8 – 10% per annum. I was looking for a business model where we did not have to directly compete with bigger brands that have much deeper pockets. I wanted us to have control of our own advertising space and platforms without being restricted and over charged, a business model that appeals to a progressive township generation and uplifts our township identity. Nkukhu Box is a concept that has found its own comfortable space and is striving to become a household brand in all major townships. The brand has been under research and development since 2013 with the first store launched in July 2016.
How do you deal with competition from established grilled chicken franchises?
At Nkukhu Box we do not just serve great food but also provide a notable eating experience. This stems from respecting the energy of township culture and allowing the brand to form part of the community, sharing its culture, values, problems, troubles and joys. Our customers never feel alienated in our spaces because of the vibey, open environment that we seek to create. Because our stores are located at township street fronts and alongside popular routes, it makes each space a prefect stage to socialize and a cool place to be seen at.
How is your flagship store currently performing in terms of customer numbers and sales?
The current flagship store does an average of R 500 000 turnover per month, services an average of 7600 customers p.m with an average spent per head of R66.00.
What business values do you espouse?
IM: The perception that a market purely makes buying decisions based on a lower cost price is wrong. Product quality has become a major factor too. As an entrepreneur, it is crucial that you have strong motivation and drive to achieve success. A person must have confidence and enthusiasm for the product and service he/she is selling, not merely a desire to make a profit. Equally vital is the development of one’s administrative and entrepreneurial skill.
Future plans for Nkukhu Box?
We have the following Nkukhu Box stores some recently built and others opening soon. Nkukhu Box Jouberton, Nkukhu Box Atteridgeville, Nkukhu Box Mamelodi East, Nkukhu Box Mamelodi North East, Nkukhu Box Nellmapius, Nkukhu Box Protea Glen and Nkukhu Box Elandspoort. We aim to change the current blueprint of township fast food. We want to become a household brand in every Kasi.
KASIBIZ MAHALA STAFF WRITER