04 Feb 2016
The restaurant investor’s recipe for success The Global Restaurant Awards panel of expert judges reveal the recipe for restaurant success
As the surge in the F&B industry in UAE continues, the existing tally of both homegrown and overseas restaurant concepts is expected to surpass 1,600 by 2019. This burgeoning supply has so far exceeded consumer demand, and it is imperative that restauranteurs as well as key investors network with the right people and innovate continuously to maintain brand appeal.
Owing to the consistent growth rate of the F&B market, and recognising its limitless potential in the region, The Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) has taken this initiative to provide a prolific forum on which to connect with investors, owners, franchisors and senior hospitality professionals to discuss industry trends and secure investment opportunities. The GRIF, to be held at the Address Hotel, (Dubai Mall) between 14th – 16th March 2016, is a showcase of the hottest new restaurant concepts being introduced to market. With attendees from all over the world The GRIF will culminate in the inaugural Global Restaurant Awards on the 16th March at the prestigious Burj Al Arab, Dubai. There, an expert panel of judges will assess the nominees, recognise outstanding successes and celebrate exciting new concepts.
So what makes a good restaurant concept, and why would an investor invest? The KPMG Survey findings indicate that the tourist turnout in Dubai will keep increasing year-on-year, and based on the average transaction spend, the per plate price will reach its maximum of USD 13.85 in 2016. The total number of industry transactions is expected to rise from USD 773 million in 2013 to USD 956 million in 2018. Within this framework of a favourable market milieu, it is befitting that the GRIF panel of judges will take part in ‘Dragon’s Den’ style sessions where they’ll evaluate a selection of industry concepts for investment, before explaining why they would or wouldn’t invest. In the meantime, the panel will shed some light on what they’ll look for.
Hutton Collins, one of the key GRIF participants, invests in leading businesses across Europe. Their investment partners include private equity firms, leading entrepreneurs, as well as management, family and corporate shareholders. Eric Bellquist, a partner at Hutton Collins said, “The concept should have a differentiated offering, whether it’s the type of cuisine, the speed of the service or the uniqueness of the location. Its offer should be high in quality but affordable in price, and above all it should have strong management and operational standards.”
Marc Blazer, the Chairman & CEO of Overture Investment Partners and a Chairman of the Board at Noma agreed. Reflecting the spirit of Overture, which is a prolific player in the business of backing great entrepreneurs and launching ideas to build disruptive, innovative companies in the consumer, hospitality and related sectors, he commented, “We would like to see a successful track record for a number of years, a brand that can be exploited outside the four walls of the restaurant, and a unique position in their market.”
Beyond the product itself, the panel emphasised the importance of strong consumer focus. Ron Pearson, a Partner at Bowmark Capital LLP, which is a leading private equity investment firm, specialising in UK growth companies valued at up to £150 million, said, “An understanding of their core audience and a clear focus on the customer experience is vital to a successful restaurant. It’s the management team that obsesses over the details that really stands out.”
Naturally, costs also have an impact on an investors decision. Sami Daud, the Founder and Chairman of Gourmet Gulf Co LLC – one of Middle East’s most successful conglomerates managing a dynamic portfolio of world class investments in the Gulf, Soth Asia and South East Asia – explained, “Before making a deal, an investor must carefully examine revenues, ratios and profit on an operating level, as well as the cost of opening a restaurant. If the figures add up from the very beginning, the restaurant is in a strong position.
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