New service approach key to Nando’s expansion

February 13 2017

Nando’s will aim to open up to ten new locations in Canada this year.

The fast-casual chicken chain set up 12 new restaurants in 2016, with its 42nd Canadian location opening in London, Ontario in December.

That means with seven to ten new locations planned for Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, Nando’s could open its 50th restaurant in 2017.

When the South African-based chain made it to Canada in the mid 1990s, its first restaurant, which was based in Richmond, B.C., followed the quick service format that had been used since its inception in 1987.

However, the success of the fast-casual approach in the United Kingdom has seen Canada-based Nando’s adopt the format.

Ron Cecillon, president of Nando’s Canada, believes this change has been key to its recent success and subsequent expansion.

Speaking to, Mr Cecillon said: “We believe it is a blend of speed from fast food and the quality and design elements of casual dining. It’s a really nice blend for us.

“For customers, the biggest thing is comprehension and understanding it.”

When the quick service model was in place, Nando’s orders were evenly split between take-out and dine-in customers. However, taking the fast casual approach has seen 70 per cent of customers dine-in, which has naturally benefitted Nando’s bottom-line. Every Canada-based Nando’s will have been retrofitted with the fast-casual model.

Mr Cecillon explained that although Nando’s is a chain, each location is unique; a point exemplified by the fact that all art featured in the restaurants are original works from South Africa.

“We design art right into our restaurants, instead of saying ‘that’s a great wall for art’,” he told

“Nando’s owns the largest South African art collection outside of Africa. We’re now over 22,000 pieces globally.”

The decor also goes for a natural, worn look by using imperfect wood furniture and worn leather.

Despite Nando’s plans to open up to ten new locations in 2017, the company is closed to new franchisees. Currently, around 15 of its restaurants are franchise locations, while new openings will be corporate stores, or operated by existing Nando’s owners.