Rebuilding A Brand
The secrets behind re-inventing another successful South African restaurant chain, a step at a time... Since joining Maxi's MD Christo Calitz has been tasked with re-inventing and updating the Maxi's brand, a chain with 47 outlets around SA.
Revitalizing brands should not be new to Calitz who was tasked with updating the fledgling Wimpy brand in 1996 when he was part of the management team who, along with Ethos private equity firm bought the Pleasure Foods group from Anglovaal.
Calitz explained to Tycoon that he was told the Wimpy brand was maturing, a statement which annoyed him as "brands never mature, you should reposition them and grow them constantly." The Maxi's brand however needed repositioning in order for the group to expand and generate new and younger customers.
To successfully reposition a brand, Calitz explains that it is important to maintain the core essence of the brand while not losing current customers which is difficult because "you cannot be all things to all people." Calitz told Tycoon that while the Maxi's brand is established in Pretoria, the challenge was to translate the regionally strong brand into a national one.
Calitz explained to Tycoon that having a strong brand in one area helps that business expand into areas where it was not previously as strong. Many of the companies which Maxi's rents stores from are the big property owners such as Old Mutual who are familiar with Maxi's track record and product offering and therefore it makes it easier to acquire good locations in new malls.
According to Calitz, retailing whether it be clothing or restaurants is all about location. He speaks about how strong global brands have had stores which have failed as they were not in good locations. When it comes to getting involved in a marketing career Calitz says it all has to do with having a gut feel of the products involved and creative flair while still possessing a strong business sense.
"Anybody can get involved in marketing and always remember to build your brand into what you want it to be." Calitz told Tycoon that keeping your vision for the brand is important when repositioning and has admitted that Maxi's has faced challenges from more conservative franchisees that were resistant to change.
"When you have hundred different outlets you have hundred different viewpoints" Calitz says South Africa is a great place for young people wanting to start a new business as it is relatively easily to set up shop, all you need to do is have an idea, a good product and go sign the lease. Compared to Europe where the business environment is a lot tougher and more developed. "There are still great opportunities to be had in South Africa".