King Pie is a South African franchise and a member of The Franchise Association South Africa (FASA), just one of a number of fast food brands one might be tempted to think, but KP demands to be taken seriously. It claims to make the best pies in the world, assuring its customers that it really does take pies seriously: “It’s easy to get caught up with cooking trends and cost charts, but we know it’s the basic things that make a good pie – freshness, quality ingredients, and value for money.”
King Pie was established in 1993 and changed the pie industry with its innovative open plan pie-making concept. 30 franchises were opened in the first year. It has been part of consumers’ lives for over 20 years with a strong South African heritage. King Pie products are known for their quality, taste, wholesomeness and value pricing. King Pie is without any doubt the biggest and most successful pie franchise, with more than 280 outlets in South Africa and neighbouring countries, for example Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia.
The King Pie brand has come a long way over the past 20 years. Part of the company's success is having a clear vision of what the King Pie brand stands for and what values it embraces. The brand makes much of its ‘royal’ connection, even though it is only in the name. “In the King Pie Kingdom everyone is royalty. Through long term meaningful relationships with our suppliers and world class support services, it is our passion to deliver feasts fit for a king. We delight in making every customer’s day by treating them as if they all wear a crown.”
That is rather and ambitious target to hit consistently, so let us look at how it might be achieved. For a start King Pie claims to have the most state of the art pie factory in the world, in which every ingredient is checked rigorously and capable of being traced back to its source. The Johannesburg factory has the capacity to produce six million pies per month, and has all the national and international accreditations you would expect – and then some, as it goes beyond the basic by some way with a world class food safety system that ensures product of the highest quality.
The site is Halal accredited and export approved as well as being hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) certified. All this goes to ensure that the process is impeccable and meets the highest international standards. The pies go through 35 quality checks during the manufacturing process. Regular DNA testing is done on all the beef and chicken used, and products are tested on an ongoing basis by an independent laboratory to confirm that there are no pathogens present in the pies. Spices and ingredients are ‘Green Label”, which indicates organic quality to the delicious flavours without any chemical additives. Especially notable is that all pies are baked fresh in store to allow for the ideal meal and customer experience.
All of this reassures the consumers – who are welcome to visit the factory by invitation to satisfy themselves on these points – that the food is safely prepared. But what keeps them coming back is more a matter of the quality of the content – to put it bluntly, the taste and texture of the pies. This is not just a matter of what is put in – paradoxically it is also a matter of what is left out.
For a start, then, the fillings contain 100 percent pure beef and chicken with no meat replacers or soya. The crusts of the pies are made with 84 layers of trans-fat free traditional flaky puff pastry which contains no rising agents such as baking powder or yeast.
And before the pies are released for consumption by the public, each batch is tested by real people! A panel of four people has the enviable job of testing and tasting the pies and only after their approval has been given is that batch released for distribution to nearly 300 outlets in the King Pie franchise family.
Reasons for entrepreneurially minded people to join this family are not hard to find. This is a dynamic company that is consistently upgrading and extending its product range. It is a franchise-friendly company offering relatively low set up costs when compared with others in the quick service restaurant (QSR) sector. It’s a well promoted brand, with an active presence on Facebook and other social media as well as some very fetching TV ad coverage including its very successful 'Mnandi-licious!' campaign. New franchisees join a market leader with a well established King Pie Training Academy, a network of more than 290 outlets. They will be offered support staff to assist across all disciplines; operations, legal, marketing, training, finance and R&D assistance. Finally they are accessing a value for money product range for all income groups and appetites. King Pie outlets are easier to operate compared to other brands, and its 2Go outlet requires very little retail space of between 30 and 50 square metres. This is the ideal space filler for any landlord and a great way to get one’s foot into a fast growing industry.