From its headquarters in East Kilbride, Scotland, Hero Brands has always had one mission – to disrupt the current franchise industry. The innovative group’s culture is to create new categories and set its own trends, working with game-changing partners who share the goal of building an ecosystem of brands for the future. Today, its portfolio includes German Doner Kebab (GDK), which has revolutionized the kebab in the U.K. and is now forging ahead with global expansion plans, with 700 franchisees already signed up to its growth strategy.
Recent additions to the portfolio include partnering with The Sidemen – a global YouTube collective – to launch Sides, the influential chicken brand taking over the world, and XIX Vodka, their premium drink that went viral. Hero Brands’ estate further consists of Island Poké, the U.K.’s leading Poké operator, Dirty Bones, the NYC-inspired food and cocktail concept, and a growing portfolio of innovative fashion, health and media brands including King Apparel, a premium streetwear brand. These brands all have one thing in common – accessibility. Hero Brands’ progressive model provides franchisees with while giving customers greater choice and platforms to engage with its modern-facing brands. The group is now set to undergo a period of sustained growth as it embarks on global expansion whilst continuing to identify new concepts that respond to the needs of a new generation of consumers.
Destined for success
To be part of the future a brand needs to be progressive and build concepts that last. GDK has been the trailblazer in the Hero Brands portfolio, bringing an exciting new category in the U.K. by transforming the popular late-night doner kebab into a wholesome all-day meal. With over 140 sites globally, GDK has continued to expand rapidly in the fast-casual industry. In 2022, the brand opened 33 new sites in the U.K. with another double-digit target for the year ahead across the U.K., U.S. and the Middle East. The fast-casual chain’s menu has a variety of affordable options for people on the go and for kebab lovers who want to try the complete gourmet doner kebab experience. GDK has also built a loyal consumer following through its grassroots brand partnerships that connect music, culture and fashion. This reflects the challenger persona of GDK, as it strengthens its position as one of the world’s fastest-growing brands. GDK has recently signed with major franchise partners to support its global expansion plans including Atul Pathak, formerly McDonald’s biggest U.K. franchise partner, who sold his portfolio and joined GDK in 2022.
Maristo Hospitality, one of the fastest-growing hospitality groups in the Middle East region and master franchisee for Popeyes in the U.K., has also acquired the GDK master franchise for the U.A.E. The Ajlan Bin Ajlan Group, a prominent investment and commercial company, is the master franchisee for the brand in Saudi Arabia, with a development agreement of 100 restaurants. Imran Sayeed, CEO of Hero Brands F&B division, says: “German Doner Kebab is fast becoming one of the most talked about franchise opportunities in the business. We have invested significantly in putting the standards and processes in place to support our global partners and I can’t think of a more exciting franchise model to be involved with right now.”
New brands for the next generation
Hero Brands has truly disrupted the franchise industry through its authentic brand engagement strategy. The vision has been to be relatable, creating meaningful consumer engagement through collaborations in music, art and fashion, allowing Hero Brands to establish multiple touch points with young consumers and take part in shaping modern culture. Such initiatives have been pivotal in creating positive relationships with prominent figures in the market such as The Sidemen. King Apparel’s showcase in a GQ magazine photo session with the legendary basketball player Lebron James has also elevated the clothing brand to a new level.
Hero Brands has been at the forefront of innovation, transforming franchising and creating new food categories in the sector. Island Poké, the leading U.K. Poké operator, and Choppaluna, a fresh healthy salad concept, are among these brands bringing new options to the modern consumer. When Island Poké arrived on the market, there was no mainstream Hawaiian food quite like it. Similarly, Chopalluna has responded to the demand for healthier great-tasting food with its own creative spin on the salad bar concept. By actively responding to upcoming consumer trends and introducing new disruptive experiences that resonate with the needs and interests of the next generation, Hero Brands has become synonymous with youth culture. The strategy has been about strengthening these relationships with further meaningful engagement online and offline, helping shape the brand’s appeal.
Flexibility and adaptivity
Creative ideas and engaging with entrepreneurs throughout the F&B industry has been fundamental to the development pathway at Hero Brands. New innovative food and beverage concepts such as Dirty Bones is a great example of staying ahead of the curve and giving consumers what they want. Fried-chicken brand Sides is further proof of this approach – it was originally launched as a virtual restaurant concept in the U.K., Middle East and U.S. and has now expanded into bricks and mortar as it responds to huge consumer demand. Robin Mehta, co-founder and CEO of Sides, says: “I have always strived to bring innovation to the market and Hero Brands’ idea to disrupt the fried chicken market and break out of traditional franchising aligned well with my personal ambitions. Its experience and strategic leadership team, backed by its brand development vision, have been crucial in developing such a successful collaboration and breaking new boundaries.”
Investing in the future
Hero Brands has built a stand-out portfolio that has captured the imagination of consumers throughout the globe. The game-changing group gives investors the opportunity to develop brands that are embedded in youth culture and continues to blaze its own trail while evolving and maintaining its mission of building brands of the future. Hero Brands gives franchisees a variety of high-performing brands to choose from, with unmatched guidance and support from industry veterans. With this outstanding portfolio on offer, it has never been a better time to invest in your future.
At a glance
Hero Brands boasts a portfolio of trail-blazing brands set for global growth and expansion as consumer interest increases
Year Established: 2018