Afrikana Kitchen could reach 50 sites in the next two to three years, according to managing director Matthew Wood.

Wood, who recently took on the role, tells MCA that the African-inspired restaurant chain currently has as many territories sold to franchisees, with plans to open one site per month in the near future.

The 16-strong business will open a new site in Ilford this June, with Kingston Shopping Centre slated for July, followed by Holloway in August and Houslow in September. It also has further sites lined up in Tooting and Reading.

The casual dining concept, which also operates as a more quick service kiosk model, offers a Pan-African-inspired menu including peri prawns, deep fried okra, BBQ sharing platters and a range of chicken served whole or in segments or in buns. 

Like Nando’s, the brand offers a four tiers of spiciness for its sauces, while specials include chilli, jerk-seasoned salmon and curried goat.

“As our operational team becomes stronger and we become more efficient at store openings, then we can step that up”, Wood tells MCA. Looking ahead, he sees potential beyond this initial target.

“The commercial side of me says we have that number, and we’ll stop at that point, but the hospitality side of me says if the opportunity’s there, we’ll continue to grow.”

Another potential growth avenue beyond the 50-site mark includes giving franchisees the opportunity to explore dark kitchens or more express delivery sites to bolster their portfolios.

Afrikana currently operates various formats, including kiosks and smaller Lil’ Afrikana sites, and the brand’s ability to scale quickly is supported by these models.


After proving the kiosk format at Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex, it plans to open another three or four of these over the next 18 months. “It’s about maximizing opportunities within territories for each individual franchisee, so each has a multi-revenue approach,” Wood explains.

For him, kiosks are particularly suited to shopping centres and leisure or entertainment schemes, with potential expansion into central London locations. “We are considering the Tower Bridge area for something similar. Generally, the kiosk is about shared communal seating, so anywhere that has that is an option.”

Afrikana’s approach to scouting locations is “multi-pronged.” “There is an element of being opportunity-led. So, if a property becomes available that has low CapEx with a good return on investment as a franchise, we will always put that forward.

“But we also use territory mapping systems and heat mapping systems to work out how far people will travel. There’s a bit of science that goes into it, combined with local knowledge of a franchisee,” Wood adds. 


The brand considers various locations, not just high streets and city centres -  “It can tick all the boxes and be a secondary location.”

Geographically, the focus over the last 6-7 months has been around developing West London and it now moves onto North London, “which we should do very quickly,” according to the managing director. 

Next on the list is the North East, including Newcastle and Middlesbrough. “What we don’t want to do is open 100 stores in London where only 30 of them work properly. We would rather do fewer stores and spread them around the country.”

Wood sees a significant opportunity in African-inspired dining, which has been a deliberate strategy from the brand’s inception.

“It was a concept that took the best part of 12 months to get behind, and then two or three years to tweak to get it to the offering that it is now. I think in terms of the market that we’re in, it excites all our development team so much because it’s a white space, it’s a blank sheet.”

Spreading the word about African-inspired cuisine is also a key focus. “The one thing that I will say about the African inspiration is it becomes about educating individuals as to what that means.

“We have a massive opportunity to keep that going, bring that into mainstream, and fortunately for us, there aren’t a lot of operators doing it.”

The current UK restaurant market also excites Wood. “Things have got so much better, in my opinion, it’s probably the best it’s ever been. In terms of casual dining and your options, it is phenomenal, and the overall winner is the UK consumer.”

For Afrikana, this means a precise focus on customer experience. “Experiential is completely part of what we’ve always been about, and it has become more than an experience now.

“Some operators are doing fantastic things, but if you want to make yourself more appealing, the food is not enough anymore.”