Deji Akinyanju, founded Food Concept- the parent company of Chicken Republic and Entertainment Plc in 1999. He serves as the firm’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director.
Today, Akinyanju heads one of the fastest-growing retail chains in Nigeria valued at about $120 million. With the help of family and friends, he was able to raise $2 million in seed funding. Initially, he had a franchise deal with Chicken Licken, South Africa but later on, he established his own brand which was Chicken Republic.
The career of this audacious entrepreneur started with Accenture- formally Andersen Consulting in London. With decades of experience in IT, trading and the hospitality business in UK, and West African countries, he served as a Director of Food Concept, Entertainment Plc and also on the board of the Nigerian International Franchise Association.
With 16 years spent in the United Kingdom, Deji Akinyanju came back home to Nigeria to launch what will become one of the country’s most successful food services.
“I felt driven to go back and make an impact”, he said, when asked about his decision to return home. “It was at the time of transition from military rule to democracy and I wanted to help build an entrepreneurial private sector.”
Since Deji Akinyanju founded Chicken Republic the venture has grown into over 70 outlets. In 2003 he launched a bakery outlet, Butterfield Bakery, a South African brand, which later became Nigeria’s biggest bakery. Other franchises Deji also owns in Nigeria includes Reeds Thai Restaurant and the St. Elmos Pizza.
However, his success in business came with some burdens and challenges. In the early stages of his business, the company acquired debt for funding of its expansion.
“We had a strong cash flow but we also had obligations to banks and the business wasn’t profitable. We spent a lot servicing our debt”. By 2008, the company raised an additional $30 million to increase its support and finance its expansion plans.
According to him, “There is still no strong brand across West Africa, so for instance if you were to go to Ghana you will find three stores run by a particular brand and if you were to go to Ivory Coast, you may not find that brand in Ivory Coast, so we have this entire West coast market.”
“Nigerian brands want to be global brands”, he says. “And why not? We have a lot of foreign brands in our market. If you apply the right principles, it doesn’t matter where you come from, you should be able to fly anywhere.”
About Chicken Republic
The venture Chicken Republic is headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria. The platform is a subsidiary of the parent company Food concepts Plc, which is a Nigerian food-based company.
The platform is a quick service restaurant franchise that specialises in chicken recipes, most especially fried chicken.
Deji Akinyanju’s parent company of his food retail brands, Food Concepts also signed a $20 million deal with the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The funding is to aid in improving the firm’s corporate standards, safety and also to help in expansion into Ghana.
Being an unrelenting entrepreneur, Deji expanded his venture franchise into chicken farming business called Ganic. He opened the chicken farm 200km out of Lagos.
With this venture in hand, Deji positions to become the country’s biggest poultry distributor.