In the 40 years KFC has been present in Mauritius, much has changed. The last three years have undoubtedly seen some of the most significant changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Before the pandemic, customers were more often coming into our restaurant, sitting down and dining. We’ve seen that this has changed," explains Nicolas Caboche, General Manager of KFC Mauritius.
Caboche joined KFC Mauritius two years ago in the midst of the pandemic, drawing on seven years of experience as General Manager of Pizza Hut Mauritius to hit the ground running.
KFC Mauritius’ long history, having faced other serious tests over the years, also helped – with the team utilizing the knowledge gained from these events to thrive in the face of uncertainty.
"There’s not a lot of franchises in that part of the world that can come forward and say, ‘We’ve been present for 40 years’. KFC Mauritius is a real success story," he says.
It’s always been about the people working with or around me and how we can just work together and grow as a team.
In the world of convenience food, where fresh ingredients are needed around the clock, even a relatively small break in the supply chain can cause major disruptions.
For products that are critical to the business, and where it would be difficult to obtain them from other sources quickly, KFC Mauritius favors having two suppliers to mitigate supply disruption in case one of them has an issue. By using this approach, any small breaks in the supply chain can be easily resolved without impacting the customer experience.
"Without chicken, there’s no KFC," Caboche explains. "Obviously for certain supplies, we can’t have two suppliers because it’s very specific. But we also know that if there is any issue with a local supplier, we can quickly and easily import from South Africa."
With about 10 critical suppliers both locally and overseas, close communication and transparency are essential to the smooth running of KFC. One of these essential suppliers is Butter and Dairy Enterprises, a leading supplier of margarine, fats and allied products in Mauritius.
It’s important for Caboche and his team to try to set out an entire year forecast with trusted suppliers like Butter and Dairy Enterprises to ensure partners are clearly aware of the needs of the business so that they can be effectively accommodated. Any anticipated changes can then be reviewed throughout the year.
Innovating during challenges
Operating in a labor-intensive industry – where staff is needed in the kitchen, to clean and take orders – is no easy task at the best of times. According to Caboche, the situation has worsened in the wake of the pandemic as the younger generation moves away from jobs with odd working hours.
"It’s becoming more and more difficult to recruit team members for hotels, catering and quick service restaurants in general. This is not specific to Mauritius. It’s happening around the world," he says.
Today, you need to be a brand with purpose.
Another global trend accelerated in Mauritius during the pandemic was sustainability. Questions about how executives can grow their brand sustainably going forward, what they are doing for the environment and what they are doing for society became top of mind for leaders and consumers alike.
Inclusion and diversity initiatives are also not new, but Caboche also has seen these were accelerated by the pandemic.
Among business leaders and executives, success can have different meanings. Caboche sees it as being the ability to grow in both his personal and professional lives and to keep on learning as he moves forward.
"When I look back over the last 25 years, I’m very proud of the success stories of people that I onboarded when they were university graduates but today are occupying positions in banks and in multinationals," he says.
"It’s always been about the people working with or around me and how we can just work together and grow as a team. I think that’s a very important part of success."
"I think that environment, social and governance issues are becoming something very important," he says. "Today, you need to be a brand with purpose. You need to show that you care about the environment and show what you are doing in your day-to-day operation to protect the environment."