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Burger chain Wendy’s plans rapid MENA growth under new partner

Burger chain Wendy’s plans rapid MENA growth under new partner

Wendy’s plans to open 150 outlets across the MENA region over the next 10 years


Global burger chain Wendy’s, which has 17 restaurants currently operational in the Middle East and North Africa region, is planning to open 150 outlets over the next 10 years.

The expansion is being carried out by regional partner Kuwait-based Al Ghanim Industries, which sealed a franchise deal for the brand in February last year.

Al Ghanim acquired the MENA rights for Wendy’s restaurants from Alamar Foods, a Saudi-based company owned jointly by Al Jammaz Group and the Carlyle Group for an undisclosed sum.
The Kuwaiti company spent the last year refurbishing stores, retraining staff and “getting the food right” and is now setting its sights on rapid growth, according to Al Ghanim’s vice president of food and beverage Phil Broad.

“When we took it over, although the fundamentals of the brand are very strong, here they opened up in locations you wouldn’t know existed and they hadn’t been operated particularly well – at least not up to the Al Ghanim standards,” he said.

“And so we looked at the whole team – everyone has gone through a new induction programme to understand what they are doing, we reviewed all the pay rates, we put in new uniforms etc.

“We also looked at our products. At the start we were viewed as being expensive, but now we have introduced many value propositions, improved quality and also launched breakfast – which has proved very popular.

“Fundamentally we have reached a stage where we have turned the business around and are now in a position where we want to be. Now that we have got it right, we will focus on growth,” he explained.

According to Broad, the impact of the changes have already been felt. The existing stores have all experienced “positive growth” in the market, which they were not seeing in the past.

Currently, the brand’s 17 regional restaurants are in the UAE, but Wendy’s plans to enter Kuwait this year and Saudi Arabia next year. There are also plans to open a new high-profile store in Dubai in the near future.

“It’s more about the visibility and the location – which is almost like free marketing for us. We are not going to move our prices. It is about bringing more people through our doors now because they haven’t seen us and about positioning the brand in the right way. All our competitors have that,” Broad said.

Despite growing competition – there are estimated to be nearly 50 burger store operators in Dubai alone – Broad said Wendy’s had the advantages of size and scale and could offer value for its products.

“In terms of our pricing strategy, I don’t think we will go lower – it’s a big risk for our business.”

He is also confident that the food and beverage market will emerge from the current slowdown in the economy.

“I think you have got to be very optimistic in the F&B business because there are have been ups and downs ever since food was invented. And I have seen downturns – I was in Dubai in 2008. People who did a very good job at that time and offered value are still here today. People who were in it for a quick buck and who thought it’s very easy to make money have gone.

“And so we are in it for the long term. If you get the foundation right and make sure the model works, you can get through the ups and downs,” he added.


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