Famous Brands has acquired a 51% controlling interest in Vovo Telo artisan bakery and café, a young business comprising three outlets, situated in Richmond Hill and Newton Park in Port Elizabeth, and at 44 Stanley, in Johannesburg. The brand will be housed in the Group’s ‘Theatre of Foods’ division developed to accommodate privately owned non mainstream food service businesses which the Group acquires in joint venture arrangements. The acquisition consideration is not material and the transaction is effective 1 October 2010.
Famous Brands’ CEO, Kevin Hedderwick, is confident that the Vovo Telo brand network can be expanded to 50 franchised bakery / restaurants within five years. He says, “Vovo Telo is pioneering a new category in this country, which together with the low cost of entry and unique offering, represents significant upside potential for franchising. Famous Brands’ model and the dynamic Vovo Telo team’s passion will serve to unlock value for all stakeholders and assist us in filling another gap in our franchise portfolio and growing brand repertoire.”
He adds, “Vovo Telo is a perfect fit for the Group’s expanded strategic intent to grow our best in class franchised leisure brands. In our view, Vovo Telo is a best kept secret, which we are delighted to have discovered and look forward to sharing. We are privileged to be partnering with founder Matthew Repton and his partners Dave and Marisa Evans in achieving the full potential of the brand.”
“Vovo Telo’s young, entrepreneurial management team will be retained to run the brand and develop it further whilst having full access to the Group’s business model,” says Hedderwick. Repton started the business in 2006 in a restored settler cottage in Richmond Hill, Port Elizabeth. He was inspired to develop the concept on a surfing trip to Madagascar where he stayed in a small hotel called Vo Vo Telo. “Madagascar has strong links to Europe but is still clearly African. Our bakeries are similar in that way, European by tradition but African by nature. I started with little more than an oven and a pair of hands. Those were hard times but very rewarding, there was no signage so people would smell the aromas and would follow there noses to find the bakery! After crafting the first few humble loaves our customer base convinced me to serve coffee and a few sandwiches, it was a natural progression from there,” says Repton.
He adds, “Vovo Telo epitomises the theatre of baking. The bakery is centrally positioned in each store so customers can watch the dough being shaped and the bread being unloaded from the ovens. The proximity of the customer to the crafting of the product reinforces the quality of the offering and the sensuous nature of the experience.”
“Vovo Telo’s core proposition is Love, Bread, Coffee. This maxim sums up our love of great bread and coffee and the passion we have for service and our customers – who in turn fall in love with our products and the experience. We have a highly loyal customer base which continues to grow, and is welcome reward for our efforts,” comments Repton.
Hedderwick notes that there is a gap in the local market place for a pure artisan bakery offering. He says, “At present baked goods in this country tend to be mass produced, but increasingly people are seeking out artisan preparation and wholesome quality, evidenced by the increase in fresh food markets. There is a rich heritage in the USA, UK and Europe where strong franchise models built on artisan baking thrive; South Africa is starting to adopt international trends in terms of a renewed appreciation for artisan preparation and high quality foods, and we are excited about pioneering this category together with the current Vovo Telo team.”
Vovo Telo prepares bread and pastries in the traditions of Italy and France. There are no artificial ingredients or additives, just flour, water, salt and some yeast. Each individual loaf is prepared from finest stone-ground flour, is slow fermented, hand shaped and baked fresh daily. As a result, each loaf is unique and distinctive. Repton says, “The skill of an artisan baker is difficult to acquire and difficult to replicate and is an important source of differentiation for the brand.”
Light, healthy wholesome meals using fresh ingredients are prepared daily for breakfast, lunch and in-between snacks. Expert baristas produce a range of coffees featuring crema art.
Repton comments, “Our aim is to be the neighbourhood bakery where customers can develop a relationship with their baker and not just buy bread, but also enjoy an experience. We felt that in order to expand our concept we needed a ‘’big brother’. Famous Brands provides us with the facilities and knowledge to accelerate our expansion process, which enables us to concentrate on what we do best – which is to produce great bread.”
Hedderwick concludes, “Matt Repton’s genius in identifying the demand for artisan bread and pastries and his quest for quality will enable us to grow this category from start-up, with it potentially becoming an indispensable offering on the epicurean menu. Whilst this acquisition represents a relatively small investment for a Group of our size, the opportunity to change the food lover’s landscape forever is tremendously exciting.”
Notes to editors:
The Group’s brand portfolio includes Steers (513), Wimpy including UK (651), Debonairs Pizza (309), FishAways (108), Mugg & Bean (109), tashas (5), House of Coffees (22), Brazilian Café (45), Blacksteer (13), Keg (28), McGinty’s (5) and Giramundo (4). The Group also manufactures and supplies its franchisees and the retail trade with a wide range of meat, sauce, bakery, ice cream, fruit juice and mineral water products.
For further information:
Chief Executive Officer
Famous Brands Ltd
Telephone: 011 651 5812
Mobile: 083 395 8608