Caterer Power List 2015: Franchisees

The giants of the F&B franchising industry in the market
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Andrew J. Day, Group Chief Executive Officer, Emirates Leisure Retail (ELR) and Maritime & Mercantile International (MMI)
Andrew J. Day, Group Chief Executive Officer, Emirates Leisure Retail (ELR) and Maritime & Mercantile International (MMI)

01. Andrew J. Day, Group Chief Executive Officer, Emirates Leisure Retail (ELR) and Maritime & Mercantile International (MMI)

This has been a busy year for ELR and MMI, which currently have 19 concepts operating in the Middle East. One of the key achievements was ELR being chosen by UK sandwich brand Prêt à Manger to open its first shop in the region. The team at the Retreat outlet in the Premier Inn Dubai Silicon Oasis also won the Bacardi Heroes competition. ELR and MMI, with Premier Inn, is also developing a new outlet: Mr Toads Pub & Kitchen. Opening in November at Dubai Investment Park, the concept will then roll-out across the rest of the Premier Inn estate. Day is particularly proud of the bespoke training programmes that have been created for junior team members, The Beverage Passport, The Culinary Passport, and The Service Passport. ELR and MMI have more than 30 new outlets in the pipeline that are scheduled to open in 2016. Travel retail F&B remains a strategic pillar, and the new developments include a number of new airport openings, with seven scheduled at Dubai International Airport and one in Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Bite-sized facts:

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Number of years in the F&B industry: 31
Number of years with this company: 8
Number of years in this role: 8
Number of years working in the Middle East: 8
Number of people you are responsible for: 2,500+
Number of F&B outlets in the Middle East: ELR: 230+ MMI: 54
Nationality: British

02. Ravi Chandran, Managing Director, Marka Hospitality

Having gained extensive experience in hospitality and retail in Europe, Chandran moved to Dubai in 1991 to work for the F&B division of Emirates Airline. In 2009, he joined Pragma Group and, prior to joining Marka, he was the general manager for Retail is Detail. Under Chandran’s management, Marka Hospitality is growing its portfolio of franchise concepts and home-grown brands throughout the GCC, with 20 outlets in the pipeline for 2016. The successful acquisition of the Reem Al Bawadi and Morelli's Gelato brands is spearheading the company’s growth. In addition, Marka has created five in-house concepts, including Harper's Bazaar Cafe, UEFA Champion's League Experience and Vicolo. One of his proudest moments is achieving positive EBITDA within a year of operations.

Bite-sized facts:

Number of years in the F&B industry: 26
Number of years with this company: 1
Number of years in this role: 1
Number of years working in the Middle East: 24
Number of people you are responsible for: 500+
Number of F&B outlets in the Middle East: 16
Nationality: Indian

03. Dani Jan Gicquel Billington, Operations Manager, Rmal Hospitality

Billington is responsible for more than 300 employees, 20 managers and AED 100 million (US $272,200) in revenue. The group currently runs five concepts — Wheelers of St James, Frankie's Bar and Grill, MPW Steakhouse and Grill, Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Lounge and Wagamama. Prior to joining Rmal, Billington worked in the US, Australia, and the UK. From 2005, he created and opened a number of concepts in the Middle East for Emirates Leisure Retail. After returning to the UK in 2009, where he worked as a F&B business consultant, Billington arrived back in the region in 2012 and went on to develop brands for independent companies before joining Rmal Hospitality. Having focused on brand development during 2015, particularly for Wagamama, Rmal is on course for much improved profit this year. There are Wagamama outlets scheduled to launch in Abu Dhabi in April and August, Al Ain in July, and Ras Al Khaimah in August, as well as a new Frankie’s Bar and Grill in the pipeline for Ras Al Khaimah, also in August next year. Another MPW Lounge and Grill and a Trader Vic’s are planned for 2017.

Bite-sized facts:

Number of years in the F&B industry: 23
Number of years with this company: 2
Number of years in this role: 2
Number of years working in the Middle East: 8
Number of people you are responsible for: 300+
Number of F&B outlets in the Middle East: 9
Nationality: British

04. Farah George Farah, General Manager, Al Khayyat Investment

During his time with Al Khayyat Investments, Farah has been responsible for securing the UAE franchise rights to brands such as BurgerFuel, LavAzza, Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe, Il Caffe di Roma, Ping Pong Dim Sum and Fournil de Pierre. He has also conceived two company-owned and home-grown brands, Nar and Juice Central. Recently, he was responsible for the successful UAE launch of the only standalone Fortnum & Mason store outside of London. Within the last four years, Farah has successfully managed a profitable and sustainable expansion plan in the region and introduced a food truck model that increased sales for two of the company’s brands. Through efficient cost control and negotiation with developers and suppliers, he has also succeeded in reducing costs while simultaneously increased income. In the next 12 months, there are 12 further outlets to be launched in the UAE, including three BurgerFuel branches, two Guylian Cafés and six Il Caffe di Roma outlets. The final launch will be an entirely new concept, but for the moment Farah remains tight-lipped about the details.

Bite-sized facts:

Number of years in the F&B industry: 22
Number of years with this company: 10
Number of years in this role: 8
Number of years working in the Middle East: 22
Number of people you are responsible for: 750
Number of F&B outlets in the Middle East: 67
Nationality: Syrian

05. Evgeny Kuzin, Managing partner, Bulldozer Group

Novikov Restaurant & Bar Dubai is the second restaurant outside Russia for the Novikov Restaurant Group, headed by restaurant guru Arkady Novikov. Launched in August of this year, the concept boasts an Asian-inspired menu from executive chef Shane Macneill. The 280-seat venue features an open kitchen, a Seafood Market area, and a private dining room, with interior styling from Geometry Design Moscow.

Movida Dubai, located at the Radisson Royal Hotel, features two bar areas and 28 VIP tables. The club was fully refitted earlier this year with a new interior and décor, complete with a state-of-the-art sound system and lighting fixtures. The renovation saw the addition of a new DJ booth, a members-only private room for up to 100 guests, and a raised VIP area.

In addition to the Novikov and Movida brands, Kuzin is also behind Bulldozer Group’s other dining and entertainment concepts, Cipriani, Sass Café, Toko and VIP room. After moving to Dubai in 2008, he noticed a gap in the market for luxury nightlife brands — a gap that Kuzin says Bulldozer has been endeavouring to fill ever since, by bringing internationally-renowned restaurant brands to Dubai.

Bite-sized facts:

Number of years in the F&B industry: 11
Number of years working in the Middle East: 7
Number of people you are responsible for: 250+
Nationality: Russian

06. Kieran Mallon, Chief operating officer – food & beverage, Foodmark (part of Landmark Hospitality)

The new branch of Carluccio’s opened in Dubai’s Arabian Ranches 2 in April and was followed by two autumn launches of family-friendly Filipino restaurant concept Max’s Restaurant in Deira and International City, bringing the total number of Max’s Restaurants in the UAE to six.Foodmark launched GRK Fresh Greek in the region in November after entering a master franchise development agreement to develop the brand across the GCC. The outlet, at City Centre Me’aisem in Dubai, is the first of five restaurants forecast to open in the UAE by the end of 2016.

Established in 2007, Foodmark operates a number of internationally-franchised restaurants within the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar, including Carluccio’s, Mango Tree, Jamba Juice and Max’s Restaurant. The company also has its own Indian brand restaurant, Zafran, as well as joint ventures with Ushna, The Meat Company, La Gaufrette and Bazerkan.

Mallon has been involved in more than 50 restaurant openings in the Middle East and over 250 restaurants in his career, and has been based in the Middle East for around eight years.

Bite-sized facts:

Number of years in the F&B industry: 24
Nationality: British

07. Walid Hajj, Executive Chairman, Cravia

Hajj has spearheaded the business of Dubai-based Cravia from its humble beginnings in 2001. Today, the restaurant company has a presence that extends to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, as well as across the UAE. He is responsible for providing strategic direction for the company’s portfolio, which includes more than 60 restaurants and a team of more than 2,000 employees. There are six brands under the Cravia umbrella — Cinnabon, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Zaatar w Zeit, The Steak Bar, Carvel Ice Cream and the company’s most recent franchise acquisition, Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

The company has won Franchise Partner of the Year awards from Focus Brands, owners of Cinnabon and Seattle’s Best Coffee, three consecutive times. Cravia continues to grow organically as well as by adding new concepts and extending into new territories. In total there are 14 new outlets planned for 2016 as the company adds six Zaatar w Zeit branches, four Cinnabons and Seattle’s Best Coffee outlets, and four Five Guys restaurants. KSA will be the key focus, as Hajj plans to concentrate on expanding the Five Guys and Zaatar w Zeit concepts there.

Bite-sized facts:

Number of years in the F&B industry: 20
Number of years with this company: 14
Number of years in this role: 14
Number of years working in the Middle East: 20
Number of people you are responsible for: 2,000
Number of F&B outlets in the Middle East: 61
Nationality: Saudi Arabian

08. Sami Daud, Executive chairman, Gourmet Gulf

Omani national Daud plans an expansion strategy for Gulf Gourmet that will see more than 100 outlets in operation by 2020. In addition to Texas de Brazil and Dalloyau, the F&B operator also currently holds the exclusive development and franchise rights to brands such as California Pizza Kitchen, Morelli’s Gelato, YO! Sushi and Hummingbird Bakery.

Parisian brand Dalloyau landed in the UAE in March with the opening of its first outlet at Mall of the Emirates. Recognised for its world-class pastries and artisanal chocolates, Dalloyau is the creator of the opéra cake, and is also famous for its pain du roy. Alongside these signature delicacies, the Dubai outlet also offers a full menu of French cuisine. Opened in the mall’s level two expansion in September, US Brazillian steakhouse brand Texas de Brazil offers an all-you-can-eat churrascaria concept, combining more than 60 gourmet salad and 14 premium meat options. The restaurant’s gauchos carve an array of grilled beef, lamb, chicken, prawns and lamb and beef sausage — all prepared in a traditional Brazilian method over an open flame — at each table.

Bite-sized facts:

Number of years in the F&B industry: 8
Number of people you are responsible for: 1,000+
Nationality: Omani

09. Hani Ali Mirza, Partner and Managing Director, Bin Mirza International

Bin Mirza International was founded in January 2004, when Mirza acquired the franchises of Nando’s Peri-Peri Chicken restaurants from South Africa, and Second Cup cafés from Canada. The company has since added Canada’s CinnZeo Bakery cafés, boutique bakery BreadTalk from Singapore, and American restaurant, Steak Escape Sandwich Grill, to its portfolio.

In March this year, Bin Mirza International also signed Spun Candy of Covent Garden, United Kingdom and the brand is scheduled to open its first store in Muscat’s Avenues Mall this year. In total, the company currently operates eight Second Cups, four BreadTalks and three Nando’s, but there are a further three or four outlets in the pipeline, in the building and design stages.

Bite-sized facts:

Number of years with this company: 11
Number of years in this role: 11
Number of people you are responsible for: Approximately 150
Number of F&B outlets in the Middle East: 15
Nationality: Omani

10. Sumeet Jhingan, Director of operations, Ginza Fine Dining (GFD)

Opening its doors in June at the Four Seasons Resort Dubai, Jean-Georges Dubai features two distinct spaces housed under one roof — the fine dining venue, JG Dining Room, and a relaxed all-day dining concept, JG Kitchen. The JG Dining Room highlights Vongerichten’s signature and three-course prix-fixe menus, offering traditional tastings of seasonal dishes and caviar creations including Sorrento lemon gelée with caviar crème fraiche, and warm glazed potatoes with caviar, tapioca and herbs. JG Kitchen, meanwhile, serves seasonal produce, executed with a progressive touch, encouraging social dining through various sharing concepts. With proven track record and exposure to the hospitality sector across North America, Australia, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, Jhingan has been associated with the set-up and launch of numerous F&B concepts, clubs, franchise restaurants, and five-star hotels during the course of his career. He was part of the Jean-Georges New York team prior to moving Dubai and has also overseen international F&B operations alongside various other Michelin-starred chefs such as Shaun Hergatt, Laurent Tourondel and Antonio Carluccio. Through the GFD Group, Jhingan aims to offer an unrivalled guest experience that balances regional insight with international F&B experience and a personal commitment to every brand in the company’s portfolio. Other GFD brands include Brandi Pizzeria, Miskeh Lebanese Restaurant, Serafina Dubai, and Real Madrid Café.

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