Successful outside the home country

Expansion expert Rebecca Viani on international growth strategies, success and capital mistakes.

At the 24th European Foodservice Summit in Zurich, expansion expert Rebecca Viani spoke about international growth strategies, success factors and capital mistakes. WhiteSpace Partner Viani presented the results of her recent analysis of 50 foodservice brands on their way into new markets. Afterwards, three foodservice insiders provided insights from their own experience.

The current expansion study by the consulting firm WhiteSpace Partners includes a total of 143 so-called market entry attempts. “Not all of them successful and with quite different approaches,” Rebecca Viani revealed on stage in Zurich in front of more than 220 representatives of the European gastronomy industry. What stands out is: “There is a clear difference between full-service brands and limited-service brands, i.e. fast casual and quick service. The latter find it easier to take the step across their own country’s borders or do so more often. This is certainly partly due to franchising, which is well established in the segment.

Who is successful abroad?

The full-service restaurants included in the WhiteSpace study achieved a success rate of 42 per cent, while QSR and fast casual are at 46 per cent. “We talk about success when there are 10 units or more,” says Viani. “Of course, the Companys can still be on their way there.” The success rate of Coffeeshop and Bakery Brands is remarkable. It stands at a proud 80 per cent.

Origin and destinations

But where do the brands with strong expansion come from? And where do they want to go? Viani had answers to these questions as well. “British and US brands are still traditionally leading the field in Europe and the Middle East,” said Viani. He added that little has changed in this regard over the past decades. However, looking at the attractiveness of expansion destinations, new markets have come into focus during this period. “Middle East is the most attractive destination for many foodservice brands – followed by the UK. But Saudi Arabia has also become a destination for many brands. Hotly debated and more and more eyes are on the market.”

No universal strategy

“There is no one size fits all solution,” stressed expansion expert Viani. “Whether through a JV or franchising, but deciding which market it should be – each brand has to find its own approach. Some companies also choose different approaches for different markets.” Drivers are also not the same for every company, he said. “From exhausted potential in the home market to ego issues, anything is possible.”

Country first? Partner first?

“In most cases, I would advise choosing the country first. Does the concept fit in this country? That is the decisive question,” Viani is convinced. But of course there are exceptions in practice. No matter how suitable and how successful the brand is in its own country, it can still fail in expansion. “It is perhaps the biggest mistake to think that because you are a champion at home, you will be one elsewhere,” the experienced consultant warned and gave the audience one more piece of advice: “Be attentive, be agile and adaptable – and expect and deal with mistakes!”