Robbie Brozin on art, creativity and chicken

Nando’s co-founder Robbie Brozin emphasizes the global fast-food chain’s relationship with local South African art and design.

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Robbie Brozin will be the first to tell you that no matter the global scale or success of his company, Nando’s has a truly South African soul. As well as focusing on serving up delicious chicken, Nando’s has a long-standing relationship with South African art and is now extending that to South African design.

In the early days of Nando’s (which Brozin describes as “wild”), the team had to come up with some innovative ways of marketing that would get them lots of attention for very little money and the controversial Nando’s ads were born.

“Lack of resource is a wonderful thing,” says Brozin, who explains that they used chickens in their ads to avoid the cost of actors.

“That’s why so many South Africans have been successful globally because we do have that sense of energy and we can do a lot with a little.”

Since the launch of the first Nando’s restaurant in 1987, the organisation has grown to around 1000 restaurants in 30 countries across the world, including branches in Bangladesh and Costa Rica.

“Our business is based on a very simple philosophy. We’re a values based business, and we have five values: pride, passion, courage, integrity, and family. But more importantly we are a people-centric business.”

Overseas, particularly in London, the Nando’s restaurants have used South African art to champion a South African culture in their branches.

“We truly belive that the art makes the chicken taste better,” says Brozin.

The individual look and feel of each restaurant prevented Nando’s from feeling like an ordinary chain.

“We’ve put this magnificent South African art around the world. And it is beyond world class. The art is moving from an expense in the restaurants to an asset.”

At Design Indaba Conference 2015, Nando’s announced their plans for long-term, large-scale collaboration with South African designers. Of the 80 or so Nando’s restaurants opening around the world in 2015, Brozin announced that around five per cent of the tables, chairs and fittings would be ordered from South African designers.

This collaboration will provide a selection of young South African designers with an amazing business opportunity, as well as the guarantee that their work is exhibited (and used) by patrons overseas. It is a life changing project.

“For me – if you are in business and you are not trying to change people’s lives, then what are you doing?”