“When Chickening Out Breeds Success.”
It takes a woman to turn up the heat.
Nando’s is a South African-based international casual restaurant chain specializing in Portuguese-African food, including its signature flame-grilled peri-peri (Swahili for ‘pepper-pepper’) style chicken. It was founded in Johannesburg by Robert Brozin and Fernando Duarte in 1987, and named after Duarte. It all started when Brozin and Duarte visited a Colonial Portuguese-African takeaway named Chickenland. Upon trying the chicken with peri-peri sauce, they saw much potential in it and bought the restaurant. Nando’s now operates over 1,000 outlets in 35 countries.
Nando’s Chickenland Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. and Nando’s Chickenland Singapore Pte. Ltd are both joint venture partnerships between Group Chief Executive Officer (Group CEO) Mac Chung Lynn’s family and Nando’s Resources Ltd., the master franchisee of the Nando’s chain of restaurants.
The success of Nando’s in Malaysia and Singapore is credited to its accidental Group CEO, Mac Chung Lynn. Mac graduated in Architecture (Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies and Bachelor of Architecture in Architectural Studies) from the University of Wales, Cardiff in the United Kingdom. In 1998, with just two years’ work experience, her father proposed a business opportunity so irresistible, it persuaded Mac to make a life-changing decision and detour from her original career path.
Just 24 years old then, the audacious lady agreed to return to Malaysia to run the first Nando’s branch in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. This was made even more incredible by the fact that neither Mac nor her father had any experience in the food industry. However, the popularity of Nando’s offerings in terms of food and customer service grew, and Mac opened more outlets over the years. These eateries then changed from quick service restaurants into full-blown dining outlets with table service.
Since then, Mac has come into her own and made a name for herself as a powerhouse in the Malaysian business arena. Nando’s has grown into a successful eatery chain spread across Malaysia and Singapore. Under her direction, Nando’s Malaysia has expanded to own 78 restaurants throughout Malaysia and 9 restaurants in Singapore. Served in an aspirational casual dining style restaurant, Nando’s is targeted to reach 80 restaurants in Malaysia by end of the year. Besides the quality of its food and service, the sharp lady noted that Nando’s strength also lay with building relationships through great marketing, advertising, and word-of-mouth. In fact, Nando’s is known for their great marketing, both globally and locally, and widely lauded for its advertising and use of social media.
Mac’s commitment and tenacity to keep on going and to continue to find ways of making things happen has sustained, progressed and grown the business to incredible heights, winning numerous awards throughout the years. These prestigious awards include the Gold & Bronze Effie Awards in 2011 and 2012 respectively, and the Bronze People’s Choice award at the Putra Brand Awards in 2014. The admirable Group CEO has also won awards on a personal level. These include SMB Women Entrepreneur 2005 in the SMI awards and the Women’s Weekly Great Women of Our Time award for the category of finance & commerce in 2011.
Determined to be a company that cares, Nando’s has several corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. One such example is Nando’s Art Initiative, YOUthReka, an annual art-focused event aimed to cultivate and discover artistic talents in young Malaysians. First introduced in 2008, the event has served as a platform for creative expression and development. This has brought to the forefront an assemblage of young artistes in Malaysia who now have an exciting avenue to promote their abilities and creative production to the public.
In Singapore, Nando’s has partnered with Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG) which helps inmates and ex-offenders rebuild their lives and lower the recidivism rate through skills and long-term career development. Nando’s has been part of this initiative since 2013 and has employed more than 200 ex-offenders, some of whom have been retained as full-time or part-time crew. The caring Group CEO wants Nando’s to make a real difference in people’s lives.
The kind-hearted leader also introduced several initiatives in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. With Nando’s Chicken with a Heart initiative, Nando’s was able to help thousands of Malaysians in need by working together with its charity partners to donate food. Then, Nando’s started a Chicken Rewards initiative, where their loyalty members were encouraged to donate through its Nando’s app.
Most recently, Mac introduced Kind Dining where Nando’s patrons are encouraged to drop off any non-perishable food at its outlets to enjoy 20 percent off their takeaway or dine-in bills. Its charity partners will then help distribute the donated items to those in need across Malaysia. Nando’s charity partners include Yayasan Food Bank Malaysia, GoJobMY, Suriana Welfare Society, Kechara Soup Kitchen, The Lost Food Project, Yayasan Chow Kit, Cheka Movement, Mutiara Food Bank, and others. Together with other eateries, Nando’s shows appreciation to the healthcare frontliners currently battling the Covid-19 pandemic by extending a 20 percent discount on a chicken meal at all their outlets.
Living by the motto ‘failure is not an option’, Mac’s hard work and drive to accomplish the best has motivated her to fully understand every aspect of running the Nando’s business, including how to grill the best PERi-PERi flame-grilled chicken. Her perseverance has been a key point in overcoming obstacles and challenges and with her relentless determination, she is now one of the most notable entrepreneurs in the country. An unstoppable force, she is now looking to expand the Nando’s brand throughout parts of Southeast Asia, while also helping her family with other ventures.
“Nothing speaks about great female leadership than the sass, gumption and sheer leap of faith exhibited by Mac Chung Lynn in her peri-perifying of Malaysia and Singapore.”
Shanggari Balakrishnan, Chief Executive Officer, MORS Group