Kebab chain could reach NZ shores

  • 25/08/2015

By Katarina Williams in Kuala Lumpur

The world's biggest kebab chain is eyeing up a move into the New Zealand market.

Thirty-two-year-old Hendy Setiono started the wildly-successful Kebab Turki Baba Rafi franchise with a pushcart and a $600 loan from his sister at just 19 years of age.

Despite humble beginnings, the company has flourished, now employing almost 2000 people and operating more than 1200 franchise outlets across eight countries - largely capitalising on the lucrative halal fast food market.

The company also operates in China, Sri Lanka and The Netherlands.

The Apprentice Asia contestant spoke to RadioLIVE at the ASEAN Young Business Leaders' Summit in Kuala Lumpur and is excited about heading to our shores.

"New Zealand is actually a good market, a sexy market...I've been visiting Auckland, Queenstown, Wellington, Rotorua ... I believe New Zealand is a good business market to enter for Baba Rafi."

The Indonesian national plans to use the franchise's imminent expansion into Europe as the blueprint for entering the New Zealand market within the next one to two years.

"We'll be utilising that European taste to enter New Zealand. That will be the benchmark we use," explained Mr Setiono who has aspirations for Baba Rafi to become the 'Subway' of Asia.

The company already has a strong connection with New Zealand which provides the beef for its grab-and-go menu which includes kebabs, hamburgers and salads.

"It's good to have that business relationship ... and to support the local market."

The decision to import Kiwi meat for Baba Rafi's worldwide operations was two-fold: "First we are talking about quality, second is price. [Indonesia doesn't] have the good local supply we utilise New Zealand beef as our main sources."

Baba Rafi imports around 200 tonnes of it every three months from a halal-approved exporter - deemed crucial when trying to tap into the massive Muslim market.

Katarina Williams is being hosted in Malaysia by the Asia New Zealand Foundation.