Hotbrands, Al Sawani to open 50 restaurants in Saudi Arabia

DUBAI — Hotbrands International (HBI), a Dubai-based leading food services company in the Middle East, and the top Saudi Arabian retailer, Al Sawani Group, have entered into a joint venture to open 50 restaurants in Saudi Arabia by end-2008.

By Jose Franco

Published: Mon 16 Jul 2007, 9:07 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:20 PM

Avinash Bal, vice-chairman and CEO, HBI, yesterday said this would bring to 200 the company's outlets for the next 18 months. The target is for HBI to have casual dining and "quick-service" restaurants serving various ethnic cuisines by 2010.

He said Hot Brands Saudi Arabia will hold the franchise to operate the outlets in Riyadh, Jeddah, Madinah, Dammam, Khobar, Al Ehsa and Al Rabwa. He added that 12 of these outlets will open before the end of this year.

Marek Maitland-Walker, head of marketing, HBI, said that being the most populous country in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region with 27 million people and having no public amusement venues such as cinemas, Saudi Arabia is a big market for restaurants.

He said the joint venture is split "50-50" all way, meaning that HBI and Al Sawani will have an equal sharing in expenses and profits.

Al Sawani holds the exclusive distribution rights to over 30 famous brand names in fashion, accessories and home collection goods, has 450 free standing and department stores across 14 countries in the Middle East. Some of its brands are Esprit, Guess?, United Colors of Benetton, Max Mara, Go Sport, Red Earth, Replay, G2000, La Perla and Sfera.

"By entering into a joint venture with HBI, the Al Sawani Group has undelined its commitment to providing its customers access to a diversified basket of authentic retail products and brands," said Mohammed Hafiz, of Al Sawani.

HBI has 43 restaurants in the UAE, and has other outlets in the neighbouring countries of Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. It also has a presence in huge food markets of India and South Africa.

Bal said HBI enters into a three-to five-year property lease agreement worth between Dh300,000 to Dh500,000 and Dh2 million to Dh5 million for a quick-service outlet and a casual dining restaurant, respectively.

He said the company is committed to cultivating homegrown restaurants with casual-contemporary-chic ambience in mixed-used development areas such as Mirdif. "We're thinking of repeat customers in community-based areas," he said during yesterday's opening of Da Shi Dai, a casual dining Chinese restaurant in Uptown Mirdif shopping mall.

The other HBI outlets are Magic Wok, which also serves Chinese food, Shamiana (Indian), Sugoi (Japanese) and Santino (Italian) — all quick service restaurants; and Pane Caldo, which is involved in casual dining.

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