Event Review: Dubai International Hospitality Week

We bring you all the highlights from the hospitality equipment and foodservice expo
Dubai International Hospitality Week.
Dubai International Hospitality Week.

Barriers to entry for restaurateurs include space and financing

At The Hotel Show’s Middle East Hospitality Leadership Forum, a group of hoteliers and restaurateurs gathered to talk about ‘F&B Strategy’ and discussed concerns for standalone restaurants.

The barriers to entry for independent restaurateurs in the UAE currently include size of available spaces for lease, and financing, revealed the experts.

The Maine Oyster Bar & Grill founder & managing partner Joey Ghazal said: “One of the biggest issues today, specifically in Dubai, has to do with the sizes being created, and leased out and developed.”

He said that until spaces smaller than 3,500 square feet are made available, restaurateurs without backing will not be encouraged to enter the market. “The sooner the locations are smaller, offering under 100 seats, the better it will be because it will encourage people to enter. At the moment, locations are 5,000-6,000 square feet which needs millions and millions of dollars of investment and in this market, only developers or investors can do it.”

Ghazal noted that smaller leasing options are important for a sub-culture to be created in Dubai, where ex-maître d’s, ex-chefs, and ex-waiters (like Ghazal) can launch viable concepts, which currently “is non-existent in the market”.

The Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay general manager Stephen Meredith agreed and said that the risk of people “folding” in this market is very real. Fairmont Ajman general manager Francis Desjardins also agreed and said it was important for independent restaurateurs to see better commercial terms and smaller spaces to lease.

Whissle Hospitality co-founder Ramzy Abdul-Majeed added: “One barrier to entry is the financing aspect, so today it doesn’t allow debt for SMEs. If you don’t have the money in equity you’re not getting something started.

“The price point of these leases is very different. What we have been seeing is very high rentals around the market, and revenue share as a kicker. If your rent is more than 10% the revenue, you’re going to struggle to make money. That is a very difficult scenario. There are serious personal liabilities if your business doesn’t do well and that stops a lot of people from trying to enter the industry.”

Welbilt brings innovations to GulfHost

GulfHost marked the first time that Welbilt exhibited in the Middle East as a standalone foodservice company. Taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from September 18-20, GulfHost saw the regional launch of Welbilt’s new Xpress Grill — the latest innovation from its Garland brand, representing the next generation in two sided cooking.

Speaking to Caterer Middle East, Welbilt regional sales manager Middle East Leonard Parot said: “We have a lot of exciting new products. The first one is the Garland Xpress Grill, which is clam shell cooking. That means you cook the food on both sides at the same time. It’s the first time that we’re introducing it here to the region at GulfHost. It’s a fantastic product specially targeted to the quick service restaurants. The idea is that it’s efficient and it’s touch screen-driven versus the previous generation. There’s no language barrier.”

It’s a family affair for GulfHost exhibitor TSSC

Speaking to Caterer Middle East at GulfHost, Technical Supplies & Services Company L.L.C. business development manager Rashid Bahar shared his thoughts on the inaugural edition of the show.

Bahar noted that, although it was less busy than shows like Gulfood, the show attracted a specific demographic saying: “We see a lot of our customers as opposed to just random people.”

According to Bahar, an important factor behind the company’s success is the dedication of the team: “We have good people working with us. A lot of employees have been with us for 15 or 20 years so we consider them part of the family.”

Along with an innovative portfolio Bahar underlined that TSSC’s trustworthy aftersales service is what separates the company from its competitors: “My father started the company with the mission that we provide the best aftersales service in the market and we invest a lot in aftersales service. We even take on maintenance contracts with people who bought equipment from our competitors because that’s how focussed we are on service and maintenance. Our reaction time is very fast. It could be nine o’clock on a Friday night, there’s a breakdown in a dishwasher and we’re going to be there to fix it. That’s what makes us different to our competitors.”

Boon brews new offerings at Speciality Food Festival

Changing coffee culture has meant that the foodservice industry has had to adapt.

“Everything from the café dining experience and the trained baristas to the origins of the beans should be strongly considered to remain competitive in the market. Key trade shows held during Dubai International Hospitality Week have been designed to be at the forefront of changing consumer behaviour, providing an invaluable opportunity to connect with international suppliers, elevate coffee offerings and stay relevant to today’s customer,” said, DWTC senior vice president, exhibitions & events management Trixie LohMirmand.

Organic speciality coffee roaster Boon Coffee, provides coffee beans from Ethiopia. Boon Coffee founder Orit Mohammed said: “Ethiopian beans are the original coffee there are a lot of varieties of coffee and almost all the coffee is the world can be traced back to Ethiopian coffee. It’s native to the land so not only do we have premium coffees that haven’t been adulterated so it’s nice to showcase different varieties. We bring about eight speciality coffees. And all Grade 1 coffees.”

Boon Coffee has recently added to its product range. Mohammed explains: “We’re doing cold brew. We’re selling them in bottles so all of our grade 1 coffees will be available in cold brew form.”

General Mills taps foodservice sector at the Speciality Food Festival

General Mills is seeking to diversify its distribution channels and raise the profile of its popular consumer brands, namely Nature Valley, Haagen Dazs and Betty Crocker, in the hospitality and foodservice sectors, the company’s sales manager foodservice MEA Wissam Menkara and shopper marketing manager MEA Marion Guerel revealed to Caterer Middle East during the Speciality Food Festival at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).

“In the Middle East region, General Mills products have always been very strong in the retail business. With our presence here, we aim to establish our brands in a new channel: the foodservice industry,” Guerel said.

She added: “We want industry people, especially chefs and other hospitality professionals to believe that these products, which are in high demand, can also work to have in their portfolio as well.”

Menkara concurred, saying that the company is spotlighting Nature Valley, Haagen Dazs and Betty Crocker as “General Mills is committed to innovation, brands that offer new and interesting products that are meeting market expectations”, he said.

He continued by introducing Nature Valley’s two new flavours: oats and coconuts, as well as chocolate. 

For Haagen Dazs, a brand which he described as “always about offering the best quality and best ingredients with an innovative way of presentation, as befits its premium brand position”, Menkara said its latest innovation is its new stick bars range. 

Cool offerings at Mercatus

Speaking to Caterer Middle East at GulfHost, Mercatus sales director Alexandre Pereira and export manager Davide Sturla said that one of their strategies is having a wide range of products. Not only standard cabinets and counters, but an offering that reflects the growing needs of the industry. 

Sturla said: “We have our new cabinet where we have completely changed the refrigeration system. It’s more efficient in terms of consumption. We also have a blast chiller with a new controller. It’s been completely redesigned to be really easy to operate. One of our most popular items here in the Middle Est is the D1 preparation table. It’s a really innovative concept to have different uses in one model and have a compact size.”

The multi-functioning piece of equipment is ideal for professional kitchens where space is at a premium, with integrated preparation and refrigeration areas — three different functions in one product. 

“In the past you had to have a fridge, a preparation area and a washing area but now we have them all in the same product,” he concluded.

A. Ronai introduces new products in response to F&B trends

At the inaugural GulfHost, A. Ronai introduced a range of new products to its portfolio, in answer to F&B trends and demands from customers — alongside the successful merger with Direct Hotel Supplies.

In conversation with Caterer Middle East, A. Ronai managing director Gavin Dodd said: “The merger has been great from the aspect that it brings new blood to the equation.” This includes Manesh Balani, who previously headed up DHS, and Stuart Wilkinson, who joined the company to become COO, moving on from his role as VP of sales at Steelite International.

Dodd said that A. Ronai has added a number of buffetware products to its portfolio which is a calculated move to address demands from customers. He said: “We are trying to grow our buffet range, because we get asked for it all the time. It was a gap in our portfolio.” 

Creative Retail Display, a company from the UK, is one such firm whose buffetware products are now being distributed by A. Ronai.

Cambro spotlights energy-efficient equipment at GulfHost

Foodservice equipment manufacturer and supplier Cambro has introduced its new American-made food transport cart, the Pro Cart Ultra, as well as an expanded range of German-made expanded polypropylene (EPP) food delivery boxes, at GulfHost 2017, disclosed the company’s regional sales manager Middle East Emre Aksoy.

Aksoy added that Cambro’s new range of EPP boxes was launched about a year ago and since then, the company has actually expanded the selection.

“For food delivery, the new range of EPP boxes can maintain the temperature of the food inside for about four hours without additional need for electricity or any additional accessory,” he said.

A highlight at this year’s GulfHost is Cambro’s introduction of the new Pro Cart Ultra, an electric food transport cart with the ability to store hot and cold food in the same cart at the same. Aksoy explained that dual compartments within the unit can keep food nicely chilled or safely hot, even when unplugged.

The polyurethane foam insulation throughout the unit enables the cart to maintain safe food temperatures for four hours while the polyethylene exterior is durable and rust-proof.

Adjustable tray holders inside the unit can accommodate various sizes of food pans, sheet pans, trays and even large pizza boxes.

“The ability of one unit to maintain temperatures for both hot and cold food at the same time minimises the cost of the unit and reduces the number of pieces of equipment which the operator going to use in their kitchen,” Aksoy said, adding that the Pro Cart Ultra  “occupies less space in the kitchen, is very compact and is energy efficient as well”.

He enthused:”Its polyethylene exterior makes it more durable than stainless steel banqueting trolleys.”

Aksoy declared that its combination of quality, durability and affordability should make the Pro Cart Ultra an ideal product choice for practical hotel operators.

“Nowadays because everything is becoming very expensive, hotel operators are looking for equipment that is durable, economic and energy efficient. Cambro is always focusing on these important points and this is why we launched the Pro Cart Ultra. It’s compact, can store hot and cold food at the same time in the same unit, is durable and long-lasting and comes with very very acceptable prices,” he concluded.

La Marquise International debuts own brand at GulfHost

La Marquise International, distributor of professional equipment, F&B products and ingredients in the UAE brought a variety of innovative launches to the hospitality expo. GulfHost marked the soft launch of Mia, which will be officially released this month.

Speaking to Caterer Middle East at the show, La Marquise International, Marketing Manager Olga Cassidy said: “Mia is our own brand featuring pastry, chocolate and gelato and we are very excited to test it in the market. We’re introducing certain products, fillings and mixes which have innovative flavours such as saffron and peach and we’re receiving a good response so far.”

Innovations are key for MKN

MKN regional director of sales MENA Elias Rached talked to Caterer Middle East about the company’s product innovations: “At the beginning of last year, we implemented a few innovations to increase our performance in our machines.” He pointed to the Magic Pilot for the brand’s Space Combi, as well as the Flexi Chef working on 0.8 bar pressure, “which is three times faster than any traditional cooking oven and two times faster than pressure bratt pan in the market”.

He added: “We are doing very well in the market here; we have a few big references like the hotels in Al Habtoor City. We also doing lounges at the airports, and the DNATA lounges as well, along with a couple of big hospitals in Kuwait.”

Rached is seeing traction in the UAE when it comes to business, adding: “MKN is always looking for innovations in the market.”

Bragard brings style to GulfHost

Specialist uniform suppliers, Bragard, showcased two new styles at the GulfHost — Adour from the Alain Ducasse range and the unisex Lexington jacket featuring honeycomb inserts and slits on the side for maximum comfort. Bragard sales manager UAE Raphael De Luca shared his thoughts with Caterer Middle East about the inaugural show: “So far it’s totally different but I think it’s a relevant move because you have quality time with the client. At Gulfood it’s a tsunami from the start. It’s a different show and I think it’s good.”

With regards to what sets the brand apart from it’s competitors, De Luca said: “Bragard has been in the market now in the Middle East for slightly less than 10 years so we understand the market and the competition. The brand is already strong.”

”The main difference is the know-how. We only supply uniforms which is not the case with others. We are specialised. We are focused on uniforms. That’s our core business.”

Insinkerator showcases food waste solutions at GulfHost

Speaking about Emerson’s new launches at GulfHost, Mohamed Karam, senior business development manager — MEA said: “At Emerson we have different solutions starting from compressor controls, thermostats, and transportation solutions. The idea is to guard food from farm to folk in different operations.”

Karam also spoke about the company’s other products, saying: “We have a couple of food waste solutions with insinkerator as well as cold room storage solutions with Copeland compressors.”

Emerson offers a comprehensive range of waste disposal solutions for the foodservice industry.

France means Business at GulfHost

Business France (National Agency supporting the international development of the French economy) brought 30 French companies specialised in kitchen equipment, for the restaurant and catering industries to the GulfHost expo, held at Dubai World Trade Centre from 18 – 20 September. The latest French innovations were showcased over a 520-m² area at Sheikh Saeed Hall.

Speaking to Caterer Middle East about Business France’s participation at the inaugural show, Business France head of communications Middle East Miryem Oukas Messidi said: “This is a huge market for us so it was a very easy decision to make. We are here with some important partners form EquipHotel and SYNEG and it has been a successful show for us so far. We have less people but more qualified and more focused visitors.”

Innovative companies at the show included Eurocave — a creator of wine cabinets and wine preservation solutions. The company’s new launch is a wine dispenser which allows restaurants to increase the quality of their wine by the glass offering. Other offerings came from Croust’wich — a flip and serve sandwich solution and Resto’Clock, which showcased an app-enabled pizza vending machine.

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