Restaurant chain fills outlets with artworks and furniture created by local artists and craftspeople

IT’S not easy to earn a reliable income as an artist. Even the most talented, creative and prolific artists suffer lean times because sales of their artwork are slow, galleries are few and far between and/or the cost of material to create new work exceeds the income for completed work.

Mozambican-Portuguese themed restaurant chain Nando’s, which was founded in Johannesburg in 1987 and now operates more than 1,000 restaurants in 24 countries, is as proud of its southern African heritage as it is of its colourful and original branding. While the brand is unmistakable and its standards universal, the chain is determined that each of its restaurants is unique. What better way to achieve this than by incorporating contemporary art from southern Africa into the design and simultaneously providing artists with an ongoing market for their work?


Nando’s Chicken Run, which began in 2001, is a shared value initiative that involves regular “chicken runs” in and around Cape Town, Johannesburg and Mozambique by curator Tamlin Blake and her team (from Nando’s partner, Yellowwoods Art) to source art for the Nando’s Art Collection. The collection now comprises more than 19,000 pieces, which are displayed in Nando’s restaurants worldwide.

Most of the artwork comes from programmes developed and managed by Yellowwoods Art, which also works with Nando’s to further develop the artists’ creative and commercial skills. Artist sponsorship includes media and social media marketing training, and sponsorship for website development. Because Nando’s purchases artwork on an ongoing basis, artists can rely on a regular income and are freed up to focus on creating new works as full-time artists. Also, because their pieces are displayed internationally, they’re exposed to new markets.

“It’s not just that we’ve identified, supported and trained hundreds of local artists to make a living from their art, but also, by providing them with a global platform, Nando’s gives them the chance to grow their own brands, which means more opportunities and income for them,” says GM for brand experience for Nando’s in the Middle East and Africa, Deirdre King.

“The value to us is that their art reinforces Nando’s unique Afro-Luso (African plus Portuguese speaking countries) brand identity. What’s more, our investment in South African art provides us with a growth asset as the collection continues to appreciate in value.”

Although the programme is supplied largely by a regular line-up of about 300 artists, others are invited to submit work for consideration on an ad hoc basis and one-off purchases are made where the curators decide the work is relevant and the quality right.


Nando’s Chicken Run has been recognised with several awards, including a Business Arts SA award for Increasing Access To The Arts and, most recently, a 2016 Loeries Grand Prix prize for Shared Value.

But the restaurant chain’s shared value initiatives don’t end with art. Nando’s recently extended the programme to include furniture and installations for its restaurants. By commissioning work from more than 12 independent designers and craftspeople, Nando’s is fitting its restaurants with bespoke furniture and fittings designed and handcrafted in southern Africa, which, says King, reinforces its brand identity and, again, supports and gives local creators access to new markets.

“In addition to presenting the furniture in Nando’s casas (restaurants) around the world, we’ve also created an online portal that showcases the items, giving the local craftspeople further opportunity to market their designs,” she says.


In a further shared value initiative, Nando’s works with youth employment accelerator Harambee, which sources, trains and places unemployed young people in first-time jobs at scale. The Harambee-Nando’s partnership provides the accelerator with a trainer and employer in the food services industry and gives Nando’s access to young employees who are locked out of employment because they are not considered “work-ready”.

“Our co-founder Robbie Brozin is clear about the importance of sustainable job creation,” says King. “Whether it be about the artists, furniture designers or Nandocas (Nando’s employees), the premise is as Nando’s thrives, so will the people who make it so.”

Artcle Source : Business Day