How Turkish Fast Food opening Russia

Chitir Chicken and Yesen Burger are entering Moscow with an eye to all megacities

Chitir Chicken large Turkish fast food chain is beginning to expand its outlets in Kazan from next year, the owners of several shopping centres told Realnoe Vremya. In Moscow, the launch of Turkish restaurants Chitir Chicken, Yesen Burger, Little Kitchen and Arabica coffee shops is expected in the coming months. Meanwhile, another Turkish chain, Gagawa, is already strengthening its presence in the Kazan catering market, preparing to open a franchise for the sixth restaurant in the Tatarstan capital and the 25th in the Russian one.

Turkish fast food will go to Moscow

With the withdrawal of the original McDonald's, the capital's fast food is becoming more and more like a big brazier, where new players improve gastronomic skills. This year, the large Turkish chain will try to replace the American fast food giant.

“Turkish catering chains are planning to enter the Russian market by the end of the year. According to the franchise, the fast food chain Chitir Chicken and Yesen Burger, using their investments — the Little Kitchen restaurant and the Arabica coffee chain," NF Group (ex. Knight Frank Russia) told Realnoe Vremya. “It is known that Little Kitchen is planning to open three restaurants in 2022, and Arabica is planning to launch the first flagship cafe store in Moscow.”

Official confirmation from the networks themselves has not yet been received. The Russian Council of Shopping Centres told our publication that negotiations with them on finding locations in shopping centres are not being held yet. “We don't have such data yet," reported Mikhail Rychagov, the spokesman for the RCSC.

However, the Russian-Turkish working group at the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs is confident that Turkish catering is ready to replace the companies that have left.

According to Arsen Ayupov, the chairman of the group under the RCSC, all these are new brands for the Russian market. According to him, Chitir Chicken and Yesen Burger are ready to develop in Russia under a master franchise, and Little Kitchen and Arabica coffee chain will enter with their investments. Some of them will open their own coffee shops and restaurants in the near future, others are looking for franchisee partners, he says.

And to Kazan — in the second wave

The managers of Kazan shopping centres also know about the upcoming entry of the Turks. According to Fanili Yapparova, Respublika shopping centre, one of the Turkish fast food chains will open in Moscow this year, and next year in Kazan.

“Chitir Chicken will first be run-in in the metropolitan metropolis and will enter Kazan only in the 'second wave'," confirmed one of the Kazan restaurateurs.

Most large catering chains are developing based on the franchise. The more franchisee partners there are, the bigger the network in the country. The entrance threshold is from 1 million rubles.

“Turkish restaurateurs want to develop independently at the first stage — without the participation of local partners," says Galina Sharafutdinova, the director of the Association of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of the Republic of Tatarstan. “It's understandable. To offer a franchise to local players, it is necessary to show by personal example that this is a working model. It is one thing in Turkey, another is how it will go in Kazan.”

In her opinion, Kazan entrepreneurs will watch the development of the network in Moscow with interest, and then they will look closely at the franchise. As an advantage of Turkish fast food, she named a varied menu. “Turkish cuisine is similar to Tatar cuisine, and Turkish chains have a high level of cooking. If they enter the market, this is a variety of concepts," she stressed.

Chitir Chiken is often called the Turkish equivalent of the KFC chain, which is one of the big three fast food chains in Russia. This restaurant chain is part of the large MAKFRY GROUP concern (one part of it specialises in the production of household appliances and cooking products: sauces, meat, seasonings, sauces for pickling, the second is a restaurant chain). The company's plans to enter the Russian catering market first became known in March. Then the head of the Union of Shopping Centres, Bulat Shakirov, announced the negotiations of the network with Russian partners. There are plans to open 5-10 points of the network in Moscow and million-plus cities, and the approximate investment volume is estimated at $100 thousand.

Yesen Burger is a chain similar to Burger King, which continues to operate in Kazan. The basis of sales is burgers. Arabica Coffee House is the largest coffee shop chain in Turkey, the first point opened in Ankara in 2014. Little Kitchen is a chain with a more versatile menu, where, in addition to burgers and pizza, there is a “healthy” kitchen.

Gagawa is defending: two more points

Chitir Chiken can become a competitor primarily for another large Turkish chain — Gagawa fast food, which opened its first restaurants in Russia 8 years ago. Moreover, the first point was launched in Kazan. Since then, it has been promoted by Turkish entrepreneurs who have diversified the structure of their business in Russia. Being of Turkish origin, the chain works with a classic Russian menu — pasta, cutlets, mashed potatoes, salads. Currently, five fast food outlets operate under a franchise in Kazan — in large shopping centres. There are a total of 23 fast food restaurants in Russia.

“The sixth point in Kazan is being prepared for opening — in the Yuzhny shopping centre. It will be the 24th in Russia," Denis Khokhlunov, the director of development and franchise of the network, told Realnoe Vremya. “And the 25th restaurant of the chain will open in Moscow. Kazan partner is opening it in Kazan, Moscow partner — in Moscow. The entire network is developing based on the franchise. Most of our partners are residents of Turkey who permanently reside in Russia. They are the first to believe in the brand and open more than one or five restaurants, some have more than seven.”

The company is skeptical about the prospects of Chitir Chiken. “This is not the first time that an entry has been announced, but no one has come yet. The Arabica coffee shop has been announced — it has not yet either. We will evaluate the fact, according to the situation. In the meantime, there are no competitors for today. The average check is 670 rubles. The activity among entrepreneurs for the right to get a franchise is “very high”. But we not only give a good franchise, but also help with business," he says.

Turkish sweets are frozen

Many other Turkish businessmen were preparing to open their own cafes in Kazan before the start of the special operation.

“Turkish catering chains were going to come to us, and this is true not only for fast food," said Galina Sharafutdinova. “A little more than six months ago, we talked with representatives of Turkish business who planned to enter with the concept of pastry shops and full-fledged cafes. They wanted to go directly to Kazan. They had already selected sites. The special operation interfered with these plans a little. The political situation is holding them back a little. But they are not abandoning these plans, it's just that it will all be a little later. Any entrepreneur who owns good technologies will always try to scale.

Well-known Kazan restaurateur Nurislam Sharifullin believes that with the onset of Chitir Chiken, some fast food vendors may disappear from city streets: “If they make a chic and affordable menu, as in Turkey, they will be able to take a lot from shawarma makers who stand along Kazan streets. Their customers usually know where the most delicious shawarma is, where it is cheaper. If the Turks can beat them on this field, then they will have bad days and they will start closing down.”

According to him, the demand for fast food during the economic downturn will be stable if the chains can keep the price tags.

“Even in times of famine, people will not stop eating. For catering establishments with an average check of up to 350 rubles, probably nothing will change. They will only have an increase — cheap fast food will grow, and expensive — will sink. This is a global trend: what is inexpensive is growing rapidly and voluminously, and everything that is expensive is falling. Food is getting more expensive, and food is getting cheaper. Those stores that have managed to arrange delivery, they deliver ready-made food. This is a serious share of revenue. Now they order ready-made food — they bring it in 15 minutes, and you're full," says project manager of P.Love.

Nurislam Sharifullin admitted that he himself tried to open a Turkish cuisine restaurant in one of the hotels in the centre of Kazan, but it did not work out. “Turkish food is very tasty and varied. To be honest, we also thought about opening a Turkish cuisine restaurant and are looking for Turkish partners who could help us. We wanted to open a restaurant in the five-star Turkish hotel Kazan Palace by Tasigo with a Turkish chef. But they refused — they said that there were other plans for these premises.”

However, the restaurateur noted the successful promotion of the Turkish fast food Gagawa in Kazan: “Standing next to the big three, he competes with them, squeezes their audience. By serving pasta with cutlets, they manage to earn good money. In my opinion, Chitir Chiken has every chance to oust someone from the big three. All of them have a menu based on the use of chicken. They need to find buyers for the franchise who will be ready to buy 10-20 restaurants at once. Then they will be able to fight with KFS for the consumer. There are cases when local national networks beat the big three.”

Luiza Ignatyeva