HIGHLIGHT ON GRIF 2017
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
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.