'Fastfish' to beat burgers

Norwegian Nils-Tore Leivdal plans to take on McDonalds and win by establishing a global chain of fast seafood restaurants. Within six months the project will begin before spreading through Scandinavia and Europe.

Leivdal is managing director of EastAvenue in Copenhagen, which in turn is owned by a British holding company East Avenue Ltd., where Leivdal is the main owner. Shareholders are currently British, Danish and Norwegian. Leivdal hopes to have a chain of self-owned outlets in place by the beginning of 2003, followed by franchising. A prototype restaurant is under development in Liverpool. The look will be minimalistic, with the premises built in brushed steel, glass and wood. The trademark for the chain's look will signal purity. "The goal is to offer light and fast seafood meals at favorable prices," said Leivdal. The point is to go to the customer, be it at an airport, a shopping mall or exhibition centers. In other words, to set up where most of the trade is currently going in hot dogs and hamburgers. "We have been deluged by 'junk food' for several decades now. But the time is ripe for something else, which builds on a healthier and better lifestyle. The demand for healthy and nutritious fast food is on the rise. Seafood and healthy eating is 'in' and the market for healthy and easy products will grow markedly in the next year," Leivdal said. The product line will be based around a large variety of sushi, and dishes that are related to it. Norwegian chefs will be consulted to plan other fish dishes, and a standard range will include 21 cold choices and five hot options, as well as desserts and drinks. Speed is not the only challenge, but also hygiene, and the origin of the raw ingredients will be central. Leivdal intends to bank on Norwegian fisheries. The company has invested about NOK 2.5 million so far to develop their concept, and a new infusion of capital will occur by spring. Leivdal claims that there is considerable interest from investors, and that he hopes to keep most of the start capital in Norway in order to secure Norwegian interests in the project.