Kenya’s Java House plans to expand its footprint across Africa under Abraaj

East Africa’s most prominent upmarket coffee and casual-dining chain, Java House Africa, announced plans to more than triple its outlets in Kenya over the next two years before expanding across East Africa and beyond. This announcement which was made known to Reuters in an interview with the Chief Executive Paul Smith comes a year after it was acquired by Dubai based private equity firm Abraaj.

According to Smith, the company plans to open 25 new restaurants in Uganda and a dozen in Rwanda over the next five years. It is looking at entering Nigeria, either as a wholly foreign-owned enterprise or in a joint venture and searching for franchise opportunities in South Africa.

Abraaj’s East Africa managing director Ashish Patel also said Java is performing beyond expectations nine months since the takeover and it is on track to grow by several multiples within five years.

The sale of Java last year by Emerging Capital Partners (ECP) drew a lot of attention as ECP received more than 10 bids. This landmark deal in the African consumer market showed a strong private equity interest in East Africa’s consumer sector.

What you should know about Java House Group

Java House Group was established in Nairobi in 1999 by Kevin Ashley who later sold a controlling stake to ECP in 2012. It boasts of having 13 shops in Nairobi and 65 stores across 10 cities in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda.

Java boasts of three flagship brands which are Java House – a coffee specialty service, Planet Yogurt – East Africa’s first self-service frozen yoghurt chain, and 360 Degrees Artisan Pizza – an upmarket Italian pizzeria concept.

It also operates commercial coffee roasteries providing quality coffee and bean sales to its own stores and to supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and wholesale buyers. Currently, it serves about 320,000 guest checks per month and has 2,200 workers.

Java competes with global brands including KFC and Subway, as well as smaller foreign-owned local chains such as Artcaffe.