No other fast-food operation in SA has the number and variety of franchises as Famous Brands, whose market value grew 150-fold to R15bn on CEO Kevin Hedderwick’s watch. As rivalry in the sector heats up, the group — now led by Darren Hele — has branched out into the premium luxury segment. Is this a wise move as SA’s appetite for fast food grows? If Pac-Man could manifest itself as a corporate behemoth, it would be Famous Brands — the insatiable franchise food group that has been gobbling up rivals as if there were no tomorrow. Rather like rival Spur, Famous Brands has for years been the guilty pleasure of millions of South Africans, who have flocked to its numerous restaurants. Name the brands, and you’ll have been to one of them: Steers, Europa, Debonairs Pizza, Milky Lane or Fishaways. (Who hasn’t had a breakfast at Wimpy, or been dragged to the Milky Lane by eager children?) It’s a strategy which, until recently, was driven by Kevin Hedderwick, now 64. It has produced fat return...

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