Press Releases

20 Apr 2017


The conference focused on global trends and regional consumer data impacting the food & beverage industry as well as strategies for growth and successful restaurant development and investment

The Global Restaurant Investment Forum 2017 (GRIF), the annual networking and intelligence event for the international restaurant and hospitality community, powered by Michelin, was hosted by Accor Hotels at Fairmont, The Palm in Dubai last week with over 300 senior industry professionals in attendance.

GRIF 2017 featured a stimulating conference programme that provided a macroeconomic overview of the F&B industry and tackled issues such as concept development, finance and lending, investment feasibility and creating a food culture. Several key trends dominated the conversation over the three-day event, from key growth areas such as restaurant delivery, online ordering and digital technology to the need to invest in talent and focus F&B businesses around people, as highlighted by keynote speaker, Stuart Gillies, Chief Executive Officer of the Gordon Ramsay Group.

Jennifer Pettinger-Haines, Managing Director of Bench Events, organiser of GRIF, reflected on the key talking points: “At its core, the global restaurant industry is driven by passion and this was demonstrated by our expert panellists during the conference sessions. Some recurring themes revolved the need for authenticity in dining experiences; the importance of the right chemistry between partners; and the value of a healthy dose of realism injected into business planning.”

Looking at consumer trends, Rohin Thampi - Regional Director for the Middle East and Africa at Zomato, which has two million monthly users in the UAE, reported a 75 percent growth in the global online ordering segment in the last 12 months. In his outlook for 2017, Thampi expects to see further growth in online ordering with the emergence of virtual restaurants and drone deliveries.

In a session focused on this topic, Anis Harb, General Manager GCC for Deliveroo, revealed that the company is planning to open 200 virtual kitchens this year, a new segment for its merchants.

Rohit Sachdev, Managing Director of Soho Hospitality, talked about the changing competitive landscape of F&B and the increasingly complex world restaurants operate and compete in.

With customer choices widening and new technologies emerging, he talked about the big disrupters in the industry globally which include the impact of the sharing economy on F&B and again, the huge growth in the food delivery segment, which was worth a staggering 83 billion Euro in 2016.

Other expert speakers, including Nada Alameddine, Partner Business Development at Hodema Consulting Services, highlighted an increase in use of restaurant technology and services including online reservations, table management, food delivery and mobile ordering.

Simon Taylor, Head of Business Development Restaurants for Condé Nast International Restaurants, also recognised the value of technology and highlighted trends including the development of social spaces in restaurants and hotels, an increase in collaborations and the development of shared spaces and pop-up restaurants.

In keynote sessions at GRIF, industry experts advocated the responsibility of restaurateurs to prioritise their employees.

Stuart Gillies, Chief Executive Officer of the Gordon Ramsay Group, spoke about how his team turned the business around from a slowdown by expanding into casual dining and entering new markets. He said their model was excellent delivery with value for money and ensuring a great experience for the diner. Referring back to the 90s and the noughties, he said hospitality was centred on the celebrity chef; from the late 2000s the entire kitchen team came to the fore.

Gillies advised accruing great people who could both add value and be challenged to perform and grow, giving the most powerful management system possible. One of the most transforming changes the Gordon Ramsay Group made was the renaming of the Head Office to the Support Office, reflecting its true relationship to the outlets.

In a one-to-one interview on stage Amir Nahai, Chief Executive Officer Group Food & Beverage for AccorHotels, spoke about the group’s global strategy and four strategic pillars: delivering excellence with simplicity & authenticity, developing F&B as entertainment and as a hub, listening to and serving guests, and inspiring and motivating employees.

Speaking about food and beverage trends, Nahai said: “It’s really important for us at Accor to distinguish between cyclical and secular trends. Cyclical tends are important and should be followed, but there is a tendency to overly focus on these and lose sight of the more secular ones and on what matters most. We spend a lot of time at Accor trying to get our teams to align on what the secular trends are and focus on these.”

Concluding, Jennifer Pettinger-Haines added: “After a very successful fourth edition of GRIF, we look forward to continuing the conversation about the global trends, challenges and opportunities that impact the dynamic restaurant sector globally.  In this content-rich forum, we benefited from some fascinating one-on-one conversations with industry leaders and we will be sharing these and the conference sessions on our GRIF market intelligence page and social media platforms.”

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