What is in this article?:
Nation's Restaurant News was treated to exclusive access to Herfy, a Saudi Arabia-based quick-service chain with 195 units in the Middle East. This article originally appeared in the Nov. 26 issue of Nation's Restaurant News. Subscribe here.
Variety, spice of business
Shahid Shah, Herfy’s director of operations, noted, “
The Chicken Tortilla is wrapped in a red-chile-flecked product imported from Canada.
“We have that exclusively,” Shah said. “You can’t find it in the local market, so it’s special to Herfy.”
The item features a curryflavored sauce, lettuce, tomato and a sliced chicken breast fried with a spicy breading. The tortilla wraps also are offered with beef and fish, the latter of which comes with a tartar sauce.
“We started in the hamburger segment,” said Shah, who has been with Herfy for 28 years. “Then we added bone-in chicken, and chicken is now the top. In terms of variety, nobody is doing it the way Herfy does.”
The company introduces at least two new items each year to “keep the customers coming in,” he said.
Saeed said Herfy’s diverse workforce also provides fertile ground for products.
“Our people are always exploring and researching new products,” he said. “Our employees — who we hire from all over the world — give us great ideas. Also, reading about and watching our competitors helps us.”
Saeed said the integrated company has the advantage of flexibility, as well.
“Having our own bakeries, commissary and meat processing facility means we make over 95 percent of our own products,” he said. That makes the research and development process shorter and faster.
“We can more tightly control our quality and create new products much faster than any competitors,” Saeed said. “We also know that being Saudi-owned and -operated, plus being one of the oldest [fast-food chains] and a pioneer in the market, gives us a distinct advantage with our customer base.”
“Herfy’s typical customer is taste driven,” said Sherko Felo, Herfy’s director of marketing, advertising and franchise. About 85 percent of the customers are Saudi nationals, and 15 percent are expatriates or of other Arab nationalities, he said. The company also boasts a significant carryout business, with 104 of its units having drive-thru lanes. Because women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive, many orders are called in, and drivers employed by families pick up the meals.