Noura speaks to the heart

Hospitality News Middle East - - CONTENTS -

The iconic Lebanese pas­try brand Noura has launched a new flag­ship store to cel­e­brate its mile­stone 70th birth­day this year and mark the com­pany’s repo­si­tion­ing in the mar­ket. HN sat down for an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Julien Khab­baz, Noura’s CEO, to hear more about his fu­ture plans for a brand that he ad­mits is very close to his heart

New be­gin­nings

Julien Khab­baz, Noura’s CEO, has a very clear view of what was needed for Noura. “For me, Noura was like an un­pol­ished gem that re­quired some pas­sion and care to un­leash its true po­ten­tial and grow it go­ing into the fu­ture,” he told HN. “In fact, de­spite its iconic her­itage, it has never been de­vel­oped ge­o­graph­i­cally, till now.” Khab­baz ex­plained that the new con­cept de­sign for the store, cre­ated by Ma­rine Bus­tros and com­pris­ing a chic, mod­ern, invit­ing space, show­cas­ing choco­lates and pas­tries that are dis­played in an un­prece­dented fash­ion, is un­like any other Le­banon has seen. “What, to a large de­gree, dif­fer­en­ti­ates us from oth­ers is that our pre­mium choco­late is ar­ti­sanal and there­fore each piece is hand­made and care­fully wrapped,” he noted. “Though on the one hand that is a skill that is quickly dis­ap­pear­ing, we on the other hand be­lieve this is where our strength lies, namely in the preser­va­tion of a soon-to-be-lost art, and our flag­ship store was in­ten­tion­ally de­signed to high­light and show­case our qual­ity work.”

Past, present and fu­ture

Khab­baz added that on a per­sonal note, he has many fond child­hood mem­o­ries of the brand, hav­ing cel­e­brated all his birth­days by blow­ing out can­dles atop a Noura cake. “Noura’s de­li­cious food was also present at all the fam­ily’s Sun­day lunches, Christ­mases and spe­cial oc­ca­sions, which is why it’s dear to my heart,” he said. It was these mem­o­ries, the brand’s his­tory and his deep fond­ness for Noura that spurred Khab­baz, along with his brother Pierre, to res­tore its lus­ter. This they set out to do by strength­en­ing the com­pany’s di­vi­sions to reaf­firm Noura’s com­mit­ment to qual­ity, crafts­man­ship, fresh­ness and in­no­va­tion. “We took a long hard look at the cater­ing and re­tail sides of the busi­ness, which in­cludes pas­try, choco­lates, baked goods, ice cream and con­fec­tionery,” he ex­plained. “We kept all the team mem­bers and also hired a few more, rais­ing the num­ber to about 75 in­di­vid­u­als in to­tal, to pre­pare for growth. In ad­di­tion, we cre­ated a qual­ity man­age­ment sys­tem, which in­cludes op­er­a­tional man­u­als, and in­stalled soft­ware pro­grams to op­ti­mize all as­pects of the busi­ness and en­sure the qual­ity and con­sis­tency of our of­fer­ings, while min­i­miz­ing er­rors. We will also be adding new prod­ucts to our cater­ing menu in the com­ing year, with the help of award-win­ning chefs.”

Op­er­a­tional scheme

Khab­baz added that a de­ci­sion was also made to up­grade the brand’s strin­gent food safety pro­to­cols, which sup­port its zero tol­er­ance pol­icy for short­cuts. “The beauty of our pro­duc­tion setup is our abil­ity to pro­duce more than dou­ble the ha­bit­ual ca­pac­ity us­ing the ex­ist­ing fa­cil­ity and re­sources,” he ex­plained. “Our kitchen can eas­ily sup­port pro­duc­tion for a few ad­di­tional stores with­out a hitch. We op­ti­mized the space and by rec­i­proc­ity, the busi­ness. Put sim­ply, Noura has the DNA of a world­class brand and all of us are com­mit­ted and fully ded­i­cated to grow­ing it into an in­ter­na­tional suc­cess.”

Ex­tended reach

On the sub­ject of ex­pan­sion, Khab­baz ex­plained that the brand’s de­vel­op­ment strat­egy ini­tially is to ex­tend its lo­cal reach and high­light its of­fer­ings in a mod­ern way be­fore look­ing abroad. “In ad­di­tion to Down­town, we will there­fore be ren­o­vat­ing our two ex­ist­ing stores and open­ing a new branch in An­telias next year to cover all ma­jor ac­cess points across Le­banon,” he said. “We will also, in the near fu­ture, ex­pand re­gion­ally by open­ing the re­tail side of the busi­ness to a fran­chise model.”

In keep­ing with the times

Khab­baz told HN that with Noura cel­e­brat­ing its 70th an­niver­sary and mov­ing up a level, it was felt that the time was right to re­brand the con­cept. Af­ter a year of work car­ried out with help from Leo Bur­nett, Noura is now be­ing re­launched with its new mod­ern­ized, yet still tra­di­tional look. “To­day, it will come across as a lux­ury brand, com­bin­ing age-old tra­di­tion and mod­ern-day novelty, des­tined to com­pete at a higher in­ter­na­tional level."

Noura was like an un­pol­ished gem that re­quired pas­sion and care to un­leash its true po­ten­tial

Pierre & Julien Khab­baz

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