Restaurant Business in Turkey: But in what formats lies the future?


In recent years, we’ve all come to know of Dogus Group’s purchasing or becoming partners of  all “casual-dining” and “fine-dining” restaurants that address the A, B Group and become the subject of columns as soon as they are opened. On the other hand, “gourmet burger restaurants” within the fast-casual segment such as Shake Shack, Fat Burger and even Carly’s Jr. are penetrating into the market rapidly and opening their first branches at shopping malls like Istinye Park as well as locations like the Tunnel where pedestrian traffic is heavy. P. F. Chang’s  and Jamie’s also step forward as other captivated brands.

This brings the following question in mind: Does the future of restaurant business sector really lie in the highest class brands? Or does the fast-casual segment represent the transformation of restaurant business? Or has the market not achieved satisfaction yet in every segment and is there still a long way to go for growth?

According to Deloitte Retail Sector Update report; it is estimated that the Turkish Retail Sector projected as 313 billion $ in 2012 will regularly grow until 2016 and reach 450 billion $. Food consumption is expected to exceed $200 milliard.

Retail Sector-Turkey

According to Euromonitor’s report, the eating-drinking out market estimated as 29 billion TL in 2012 is expected to exceed 32 billion TL in 2016. During the last 15 years, while the share of cafes/bars and full service restaurants have remained almost the same, the share of fast-food segment has visibly increased within the last 5 years.

When we read the numbers straightly, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that there is a yearly regular increase in out-of-home food consumption and it has not shown any decrease within the passing years. We may consider that there will not be any major changes in the following years.

So what is making the difference?

The difference is created by the price, taste and concept of course, and the location, size and service quality of the restaurant. The number of restaurants in Istanbul which address the high-income group is increasing day by day. Many groups like Dogus Group incorporate brands with a single brand or few branches instead of creating chain brands with multiple brands.

On the other hand, fast-casual restaurants appear before the consumers looking for healthier and more delicious alternatives than the hamburgers of Mc Donald’s and Burger King. The consumers no longer consider the benefit-cost balance but the taste-experience axis.

The technology changes, the consumers change

Rapid changes in technology not only facilitates easy access to information but also alternates the consumption habits. It is no longer easy to stand out in the cloud of information. It can be expected from the consumers who would like to purchase “a different experience” rather than just a product in every area from mobile phones to personal computers, from shoes to watches to see the food they eat from a different perspective.

The social-economic status groups in Turkey live for the experience, they want to buy the experience. While doing that, they do not hesitate to exceed their budgets, considering such act as a “gained victory”.

But is it possible to carry on profitable businesses while serving the consumers that demand more and more quality? If so, how? I will be focusing on this subject in my next article.

Please, feel free to comment or share your thoughts.