German Doner Kebab (GDK) plans to open its first drive-thru by early 2025 as the chain nears the 150-site milestone, CEO Simon Wallis tells MCA.

The c140-strong kebab concept has so far opened four sites this year and is encouraged by strong returns, with sales in those sites 17% higher than average sales across the chain.

“Our new stores are performing better, predominantly driven by the fact that we’re being careful about where we open and who we open with,” Wallis says. “We’re building a distinctive brand, underpinned by a great product and some really encouraging numbers.”

Even as the estate is anticipated to reach 150 this year, the brand has only one or two restaurants in key cities like Bristol, Liverpool, Leeds, and Glasgow, while others – like Cambridge – remain untapped.

“There’s lots of whitespace crying out for a GDK,” Wallis continues. “We’ve already got 54 restaurants in London but there’s still whitespace [in the capital].

“As we mature, we’ll do a variety of formats, with smaller stores in smaller locations.”


While flagship venues and other existing formats are important for the brand, flexing to fit new formats is “critical in ensuring we fulfil its full potential,” he adds.

“We’ve got an operational model that offers that speed of service [for drive-thrus]…shopping centres are also some of our better performing sites.”

As GDK branches out across formats, it is also maximising trade from across day parts. The breakfast offer – launched late last year – is under trial at the moment and will be rolled out across more of the estate this year.

The offer comprises up to 7% of sales, according to Wallis.

“There’s no bigger signal of intent from us than offering the doner for breakfast,” he says. “We’re flexing our product across multiple occasions and pleased with the uptake.”

The brand already trades well at lunch and dinner – comprising 30% and 50% of transactions, respectively – with only c4% coming from the late night day part.

If breakfast is a signal of intent, then late night is “the low hanging fruit we haven’t really gone after,” he adds.

“Adding a third occasion through breakfast also helps as we expand across multiple channels.

“Historically GDK has taken very little of its sales at late night…a lot of stores did not stay open past 11. We’ve been precious about differentiating ourselves.”

GDK Big Breakfast Wrap

Wallis speaks to MCA as the brand expands its plant-based offering with the launch of the OV plant-based doner, an alternative to the OG Doner. This follows significant demand for the existing veg offer.

This is designed to expand the customer base and put GDK apart from its competitors with a strong plant-based offering that extends to 10 products across the menu. It also offers a new healthier option, according to Wallis.

“We think innovation needs to drive incremental sales, therefore incremental profitability for our franchise partners.

“It should open up new customers, otherwise we have to question why we’re doing it.”

It comes as the brand sees an opportunity to “turbocharge” sales with its ‘Doners Worthy of the Daylight’ campaign, due to launch this summer.

“We’re turning around those stereotypical associations that the Great British Public has grown up with,” he explains.

While the kebab market continues to be independent-dominated, Wallis acknowledges new players are entering the space – but GDK remains committed to its mission.

“Clearly others believe there’s opportunity here as well. We should never be complacent that we have this category to ourselves.

“We’re elevating the kebab eating experience. That passion, plus the commitment to quality and restaurant environment, sets the brand apart.”