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Famous Brands buys 70% stake in Wakaberry

The fast food group has been buying up businesses at a rapid pace in recent years.

Famous Brands has bought a 70 percent stake in the Wakaberry self-service chain of frozen yoghurt bars. Picture: Facebook.com.

JOHANNESBURG - Fast food group Famous Brands on Tuesday revealed it has acquired a 70 percent stake in Wakaberry.

The self-service chain of frozen yoghurt bars, which first opened a store in Durban back in 2011, comprises 33 franchise stores with a presence in eight provinces.

Wakaberry is one of the biggest businesses in the frozen yoghurt space.

Famous Brands, on the other hand, runs 23 brands, including Steers, Debonairs Pizza, Mugg & Bean and Wimpy.

Wakaberry is the brainchild of Ken and Michele Fourie, as well as business partner David Clark.

Famous Brands Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kevin Hedderwick says Wakaberry is, "best in its class, which aligns with the group's brand development growth strategy.

"The brand is highly sought after by landlords and given its low set-up and running costs, it is an attractive business proposition for potential franchisees."

The CEO made the comments on The Money Show late on Tuesday.

"We did look around more at the category than at the brands. I had my mind set on it eight months ago. We look for brands that are best in their class and Wakaberry, in terms of this particular system of frozen yoghurt, has pioneered that category.

"I don't think it will ever be the size of a Wimpy, where we've still got in excess of 500 restaurants."

Hedderwick, however, believes there's space for Wakaberry to expand.

The frozen yoghurt chain appeals to the high-end of the market.

"It is anticipated that by June 2014, the total network will comprise more than 40 restaurants, with further openings scheduled for the rest of the year."

Asked whether Wakaberry is exportable, comparing it to Steers opening in the United Kingdom, Hedderwick said, "It's not necessarily global. One of the challenges we face in Africa is the root market."

He did, however, say there was some scope to grow in Namibia, Zambia and Botswana.

Famous Brands has been buying up businesses at a rapid pace in recent years.

The group in 2013 opened its first Debonairs store in Mumbai, India, with former Proteas cricketer Jonty Rhodes as its brand ambassador.

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