Dubai F&B operator plans to help struggling restaurants run their business

UAE-based F&B operator Gates Hospitality is planning to step in and take over the operations of restaurants that have been unable to sustain their business models in the face of high rent and fierce competition, according to Naim Maadad, the firm’s founder and CEO.

Gates Hospitality has a portfolio that currently includes restaurants such as Folly, Reform Social&Grill, Bistro des Arts, Asia de Cuba and Publique.

In an interview with Arabian Business, Maadad said that “as far as investments are concerned, we’ve put a hold on the pipeline in order to understand what’s happening with the economy and what’s happening with political stability in the region, and last but not least to understand the saturated market and how it’s going to pan out.”

“Having said that, what we’re witnessing is a lot of venues can’t actually sustain their business models,” he added.

These restaurants, Maadad explained, often struggle with rent – although he noted that the rent situation has been largely improving – as well as attracting footfall in the highly competitive Dubai market.

“We’re seeing a lot of people putting their hands up and asking whether we’d be able to take over their business and operate it on various business models,” he said. “That’s the approach I’m taking over the next 12 to 24 months.”

Gates Hospitality’s plans, he explained, are to “jump into someone’s business and help them operate it, with different concepts, positioning and pricing strategies.”

“It all depends on the location, demographics and competition within the area,” he added.

Expo Factor

Looking ahead to the expected influx of residents and tourists expected to come from Expo 2020 Dubai, Maadad said that expects only a slight increase in business.

“My business will actually benefit from this October, from the people who are coming to work the Expo in a supervisory role upwards and will be residents for 12 to 18 months,” he said. “That’s where I’m seeing the interest.”

Maaded added that the competition for these Expo workers – as opposed to visitors – will be stiff.

“These people, when they land, it will take them three months to find you. With the amount of venues that we have, we’re all going to be competing for their business,” he said. “I don’t see a huge spike in my business based on Expo goers, because we cater for the local market. We’re in neighbourhoods in which tourism doesn’t actually thrive.”

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