Nada Alamed­dine, part­ner han­dling busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at Hodema Con­sult­ing Ser­vices, high­lights key trends emerg­ing in the Mid­dle East mar­ket and the mod­els that are be­ing used suc­cess­fully to drive growth, from franchising to the cre­ation of lo­cal conce

Hospitality News Middle East - - EVENTS - Hodema.net

The Global Res­tau­rant In­vest­ment Fo­rum 2017 (GRIF), or­ga­nized by Bench Events, is an an­nual net­work­ing event, show­cas­ing the hottest res­tau­rant con­cepts from around the globe. Pow­ered by Miche­lin, the fo­rum was hosted by Accorhotels at Fair­mont The Palm in Dubai from April 10th to 12th and gath­ered over 300 in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als.

GRIF held a three-day con­fer­ence tack­ling sev­eral top­ics in the food and bev­er­age (F&B) in­dus­try namely global trends, con­cept de­vel­op­ment, fi­nance and in­vest­ment, as well as cre­at­ing food cul­ture.

As gold spon­sor, Hodema Con­sult­ing Ser­vices took part in sev­eral panels, whereby I per­son­ally chaired dis­cus­sions on hot-but­ton is­sues, namely how the Mid­dle East re­gion is at the cross­roads of cul­tures; a re­sult of var­i­ous in­flu­ences through­out his­tory, over three hun­dred ninety thou­sand in­hab­i­tants and a con­trasted GDP per capita vary­ing from USD 1,406 in Ye­men to USD 73,653 in Qatar. The re­gion is not con­sid­ered a trend­set­ter, as it has al­ways been an im­porter of food trends com­ing di­rectly from the west and from Asia through the west. This ex­plains the un­bal­anced ra­tio be­tween im­ported and home­grown F&B brands. How­ever, we are wit­ness­ing to­day the in­tro­duc­tion of lo­cally cre­ated con­cepts and brands.

Over 17 food and bev­er­age trends are dom­i­nat­ing the Mid­dle East with some emerg­ing such as Turk­ish cui­sine, tech ser­vices and food trucks. Other es­tab­lished trends are also on the rise such as farm to ta­ble, lo­cal cui­sine and up­graded street food, with the most pop­u­lar be­ing all-day break­fast, Le­banese cui­sine and cof­fee shops. Food on-thego and bars within bars are avant-garde trends be­ing slowly in­tro­duced to the mar­ket. In terms of safety bet trends, the Mid­dle East will al­ways rely on tra­di­tional Mid­dle-eastern food, chicken-based cui­sine, Ital­ian cui­sine, sushi and shisha.

“De­mys­ti­fy­ing Res­tau­rant De­vel­op­ment” was an­other panel dur­ing which Toufic Akl, part­ner han­dling op­er­a­tions at Hodema Con­sult­ing Ser­vices, dis­cussed the op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges across the res­tau­rant de­vel­op­ment process, en­sur­ing re­turn on in­vest­ment (ROI) by in­vest­ing across all phases of the de­vel­op­ment process, from func­tional in­te­rior de­sign, to pre­open­ing mar­ket­ing and op­er­a­tional plan­ning.

The panel dis­cussed an es­sen­tial check­list a de­vel­oper should com­plete to de­ter­mine whether an op­por­tu­nity is worth in­vest­ing in. Toufic Akl stressed on the fol­low­ing ma­jor el­e­ments: a detailed mar­ket study show­ing de­mand de­mo­graph­ics in the area where the res­tau­rant is to be de­vel­oped, a good anal­y­sis of the com­pe­ti­tion in the mar­ket, the ex­ist­ing sup­ply chain along with a com­plete and detailed fea­si­bil­ity study.

The panel also tack­led some of the great­est mis­con­cep­tions about res­tau­rant de­vel­op­ment and what should de­vel­op­ers know be­fore em­bark­ing on a project. Akl stated that in­no­va­tion is not al­ways wel­come, al­though at the same time it is es­sen­tial to a project’s suc­cess. The pan­elists agreed on the fact that a res­tau­rant re­quires hard work and in­vestors must be very in­volved in op­er­a­tions and man­age­ment.

When asked about some of the lessons learnt through ex­pe­ri­ences, and how de­vel­op­ers can avoid some of the pit­falls that speak­ers faced, the main fo­cus was to take the nec­es­sary time in the study and cre­ation phase, and most im­por­tantly to work with pro­fes­sion­als as the res­tau­rant busi­ness faces very high risk and com­pe­ti­tion.

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