An authentic Arab legacy mixed with western styled operational model, the fast-casual restaurant franchise ‘Al Farroj’ is seeking new vistas for growth. Saleh Abdullah Lootah, Chairman Al Farooj Chain of Restaurants shares brand’s international expansion plans.
Namita Bhagat (NB): Tell us about the inception of the concept of ‘Al Farooj’.
Saleh Abdullah Lootah (SAL): Al Farooj is a fast-casual restaurant with majority shares of Al Islami Foods Group. The restaurant chain specialises in fresh chicken grilled with special recipes. Al Farooj shawerma sandwich range is famous due to its unique taste prepared in Arabic, Mexican, Italian and Lebanese recipes. The first unit of Al Farooj was opened in Sharjah, UAE in 1994 by a Lebanese family.
NB: What is the USP of the brand?
SAL: The brand has trusted high quality, great taste, and unique recipe for Shawerma. Only Al Farooj has developed grilled concept as compared to international brands that rely on fried products. The brand bear good value proposition.
NB: What are the motivating factors for the brand to opt for franchise model for expansion?
SAL: Al Farooj concept is an authentic Arab legacy mixed with western styled operational model that makes it attractive for a modern franchisee and consumers in the Middle East.
NB: How many owned locations and /or franchisees do you have at present and in which countries?
SAL: Al Farooj presently has total of 35 operational outlets. The company owns 12 outlets in the UAE. The franchisees manage 18 outlets in UAE, four in Lebanon and one in Kuwait. In the near future, we have plans for one outlet in Deira City Centre Dubai (franchised), one in Mall of The Emirates (company owned) and two in Abu Dhabi (franchised).
NB: Could you share the expansion plans for the brand in the Middle East and other world markets?
SAL: In 2012 we are planning 14 to 17 new outlets in Lebanon, France, India, Azerbaijan, Qatar, Pakistan, Libya, Canada, Morocco, Algeria and KSA.
NB: How would you tackle the issue of competition from other international/local brands operating your business space?
SAL: Well in some areas, Al Farooj is unique as we stand for the Arab legacy, the unique Shawerma recipe, halal and transparent business model. Also, we have more variety and more flavors in our menu range besides healthy food options and BBQ range.
NB: Could you share the investment outlay from the franchisees’ end to partner with the brand in Middle East?
SAL: Al Farooj is a flexible franchise option. The size of investment depends on size, facilities, location of the outlet.
NB: What kind of training and support will be provided to the franchisee?
SAL: The successful franchise applicant immediately starts receiving assistance on business aspects such as; feasibility study, break-even analysis, suitable site selection, architectural & construction requirements, staffing, , staff training, branding, marketing, frequent supervision, product quality check, provision of product recipes from corporate commissary built in Dubai Investment Park, operation manual, rights of re-franchising, business development plan, direct management option.
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