MCDONALD's SA is on track to double revenue in the next four years and still plans to open about 25 restaurants a year despite tough trading conditions, MD Greg Solomon said yesterday.

Rising electricity, petrol and other costs have placed extra strain on consumers, who have become more cautious with their discretionary spending, economists have said.

"It has been a tough environment since the (2010) Soccer World Cup but we should see some improvement by quarter one next year," he said.

Consumers had been downtrading as they begin to feel the pinch of rising costs, but the company has also managed to gain the support of new customers from competitors with more expensive offerings, Mr Solomon said.

The company has 163 restaurants, he said, but hopes to speed up growth in the next year.

"We do not trade in many areas. There is place to grow in parts of the North West province and KwaZulu-Natal, as well as the northern part of the Western Cape," he said.

McDonald's SA still had a beady eye on expansion into Africa, he said.

"We have to learn how to eat off our own plate first," he said, adding that SA was a priority. "We will not be the first to go into Africa but we will be bold, when we eventually do."

Shanduka, the company founded by former trade unionist and politician Cyril Ramaphosa, acquired the 20-year master franchise last year to run all McDonald's restaurants in SA. Shanduka has a combination of franchise and corporate-owned stores.

Yum!, the owners of KFC in SA, has said it would bring its Pizza Hut franchise to SA "soon", and Burger King may reach local shores in the short term, the US-chain said last year.

Yum! is considered the world's largest fast-food restaurant company with about 38000 restaurants in more than 110 countries. The company's turnover in SA was about R8bn last year.

Local player Famous Brands said earlier this year it was on the lookout for acquisitions and would look into new market segments including "evening casual dining" within the next few months.

Famous Brands, which owns brands such as Steers and Mugg & Bean, plans to open about 250 new stores in the coming year, 48 of these stores being outside SA. It reported group revenue and operating profit growth of 15%, to R2,16bn and R413m respectively.

One of the smaller players in the market, Taste Holdings, said it would open about 50 Fish & Chip restaurants in the next six months as competition in the fast food market and particularly the lower end of the market intensifies.

Spur Corporation on the other hand turned its focus to Africa where franchised Spur restaurants are planned for Zambia, Kenya and Gaborone. In SA, six Spur, three Panarottis and five John Dory's restaurants will be opened in the next year.

valliea@bdfm.co.za