Constructor shortages a threat to outlet openings

    Key industry figures say new outlets are facing a regional shortage of fit-out constructors
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    Cravia CEO Walid Hajj: the shortage of fit-out workers is just the start.
    Cravia CEO Walid Hajj: the shortage of fit-out workers is just the start.

    Key industry figures say new outlets are facing a regional shortage of fit-out constructors

    Leading industry players have spoken out about the crippling shortage of F&B contractors in Dubai — and suggested major mall developments are to blame.

    Speaking exclusively to Caterer Middle East, The Meat Co and Ribs and Rumps regional operations manager Rob de Villiers commented: “I think Dubai Mall has put a huge strain on the construction industry from a fit-out contractor’s point of view.

    There are about 1200 outlets to open there and trying to find contractors to do those jobs in time has not been easy.”

    Walid Hajj, chief executive of Cravia — the regional franchisee for big names such as Cinnabon, Zaatar W Zeit and Roadster Diner — added: “When you tell a contractor ‘I have five locations in Dubai Mall, I want you to bid for them’, then you apply to 10 companies and get only one interested, there’s definitely something wrong.”

    The situation is forcing outlet owners to hire companies from further afield to complete their restaurant fit-outs — Meat Co’s de Villiers revealed that the company was forced to outsource a recent restaurant fit-out to a firm from South Africa.

    And Cravia‘s Hajj predicts the lack of constructors is just the tip of the iceberg. “Up to now, the number of constructors — indeed the number of everything in Dubai — has exceeded supply by far, with all the price increases and inflation and so on.
     
    “But now that gap is closing,” he asserted. “So it’s going to be an interesting year.”

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