Despite the slowing global economy, Wincor Nixdorf is bursting at the seams in Europe and has set its sights on the U.S. quick-service market for 2008. The company’s Vice President of U.S. Retail, Tad Shepperd, sat down with QSR at Wincor’s annual tradeshow, Wincor World, in Paderborn, Germany, to explain just how the company plans to duplicate its European success state side.

Why move into the U.S. now and not ten years ago?

Wincor is a German-based company and had grown up primarily in Germany then expanded into Europe and had great success. … As a matter of fact they’re the No. 1 player in retail solutions in Germany and continue to expand out in Europe, but essentially what’s happened is they’ve become so dominant in Europe that in order for them to continue to post double-digit sales growth they had to find new growth markets and new opportunities. So last year when our CEO took the helm, he made a commitment that over the next three to five years, focus would be in two major growth markets–Asia and the Americas.
Wincor World 2008

Is Wincor worried about focusing on the U.S. with the economy in such bad shape there?

The U.S. retail market is the largest in the world for sure. And the exciting thing about Wincor is that it’s not like we’re coming over and experimenting in the U.S. We have all of the great solutions and products that have been designed, engineered, and implemented in Europe with great success. And we’ve basically Americanized them … The top three players have been very dominant for a long time in the U.S. and I think [consumers] will be very excited to see someone new come in very aggressively and innovatively with new concepts.

Specifically what is your roll-out strategy for the U.S.?

We’re not coming into the U.S. retail market and saying, ‘We’re coming into the quick-service space only.’ We’re coming into the retail solution space in general. So we’re launching products for general merchandise and specialty, quick-serve restaurants, petrolium and c-store environments. So we’re coming guns loaded into all these vertical markets.

You’ve said out of all foodservice, quick-serve is going to be your main focus. Why?

Our solution application is designed for quick-service specifically. It’s modular and expandable to include sit-down dinning and fine-dining. We have a steep hill to climb so we figured we’d start with what we’ve got and work our way up. … [Our U.S. presence] has sort of grown by word of mouth but not in any concentrated effort by Wincor. My mission is to put together solution packages concentrated for these vertical markets. So I’m taking these great POS and software applications that we have and all these services that we have–emplementation, installation, maintentance, support–and I put them all together as a quick-serve package. So we’re trying to take that message out, ‘Here we are! We got it!’

What exactly are you bringing to the U.S.?

One of the things we’ll move into in quick-serve in the United States is the handling of cash and we really look at it as a transaction process. From the time the customer is engaged with the clerk exchanging cash, we have technology that allows the customer to handle all the money themselves, the clerk never touches it. … Nobody is doing that in the U.S.

You said you’re in 70 to 100 restaurants. Who specifically are you working with?

Our current presense is a bit of a hodge podge, mainly in the YUM! family–so Taco Bell, KFC’s, we have some Popeye’s. These are currently using our software, but we are putting our hardware technology, our POS terminals, providing installation and maintenance servicecs into Pizza Hut restaurants.

Is Pizza Hut a new endeavor?

We’ve been working with them for about three or four years.

Who in quick-serve are you targeting? What’s your timeline for this year?

Our focus is going to be more on the sort of midsection of the quick-serve space. Our mission is to move fast; our mission is to make ourselves known because obviously today we’re not. … We’re going to focus on smaller companies … we’re currently in RFP with people within that section of about 500 to 1,000 stores.

By Blair Chancey

News, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, Popeyes, Taco Bell, Yum! Brands