Retsol restructures and relaunches as Java Brands

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Quick service restaurant group Retsol has restructured its business to optimise growth and fine-tune the development and management of its quick service restaurant brands Ola Milky Lane, Juicy Lucy, Chicken King and Corner Bakery.

From February, the Corner Bakery business continues to be managed by Retsol, while the holding company managing the Ola Milky Lane, Juicy Lucy and Chicken King restaurant chains and responsible for the newly introduced Java Heights Specialty Coffee brand will be known as Java Brands.

Craig MacKenzie, head of Java Brands, says: "During 2009, the Retsol management team recognised the need for greater focus and improved efficiencies, hence the split of management responsibilities between the Corner Bakery business and the Ola Milky Lane, Juicy Lucy and Chicken King brands. This decision proved effective, resulting in a seamless split and an improved support structure for the respective business units. Going forward, the businesses will be run independently. This makes it necessary to trade under separate identities."

MacKenzie, who has many years' experience in the fast food and franchising sectors and co-founded Debonairs Pizza in 1991, believes the key to growth in this sector is constant innovation and strong management support. The brands continue to grow, with the Ola Milky Lane ice cream franchise now being rolled out across southern Africa.

Juicy Lucy, a franchise which introduced South Africans to healthy eating in the early 1970′s, is now owned by Java Brands. The Ola brand falls under fast moving consumer goods giant Unilever.

Unilever bought out the Milky Lane franchise in 2003 and brought Retsol on board to manage the business. Java Brands will continue to manage this brand.

MacKenzie adds that with the growing diversity in the number of brands under the wider Retsol banner, it became important to revise the company's structure and create a more focused management team.

The team is headed up by MD Claus Kuhl, who was GM of Ola Milky Lane previously. Estelle Botha remains as financial director, while Shanon MacKenzie had been appointed standards director. She will work across all platforms of the business with a view to optimising efficiencies.

Kuhl is also well versed with the food and hotel sector, including as a Debonairs Pizza franchisee and MD of the Debonairs Pizza brand. He joined Ola Milky Lane six years ago and was instrumental in relaunching the brand and doubling its turnover.

MacKenzie says that this opportunity to create a more intimate company culture coincided with the introduction of a sophisticated web-based enterprise management system that would see Java Brands migrating towards a completely paperless and seamless system within a very short space of time.

"It's highly automated and will ensure better management. This system allows for better reporting and evaluation and provides meaningful benchmarks, online training and examinations. For example, franchisees can do waiter tests online and get the results immediately. Franchise consultants can access reports immediately and present franchisees with online evaluations, as well as the ability to benchmark against other outlets."

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