Famous Brands expands its Middle East and North African footprint


“Our current footprint in the Middle East and North Africa is small, comprising three Debonairs Pizza restaurants in Dubai, four in Sudan, as well as one Steers restaurant,” said Mark Hedderwick, managing executive of Famous Brands for Africa, in a statement.

The group is set to establish its Steers, Wimpy and Debonairs Pizza brands in all five countries, as well as the Mugg & Bean brand in Morocco and Egypt.

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Hedderwick stated the group is confident that Debonairs Pizza will have a universal appeal, particularly in emerging and emerged markets where pizza eateries continue to show phenomenal growth. The roll-out of Steers, Wimpy and Mugg & Bean however may need to be performed in a more cautious manner.

He further explained that even though these markets have already been penetrated by other international brands, local eateries and restaurants still account for the majority of consumer spend.

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According to Hedderwick, the demographics of Middle Eastern and North African consumers favour quick service food consumption. About 25 to 30 per cent of the Middle Eastern population aged between 15 and 29 years old have grown up eating processed foods and dining in western styled fast food restaurants.

Therefore, Famous Brands’ strategy is to enter these markets with partners who complement their brands and operational expertise with their market intelligence and infrastructure.

As a result, the group has signed a Master License agreement with Xcelium, a food services business created by parent company, the Lebanon based telecoms group, Xcelium Holdings.

The agreement means that Xcelium can operate as a Famous brands’ agent in the specified countries, whereby Xcelium will manage the businesses on behalf of Famous brands in exchange for a royalty payment. 

The agreement also incorporates an aggressive roll-out plan, aiming to open 38 restaurants in the five countries within five years.  

 “The opportunity to grow our network in these regions is significant, underpinned by the robust ambitions and pragmatic enthusiasm of our partner, Xcelium.  Their extensive business experience in the Middle East and North Africa provides us with invaluable insight into local markets and operating practices.  Their commitment to this venture has already been demonstrated by their significant investment to date in training and recruitment ahead of the formalisation of the agreement,” added Hedderwick.  

Yasser Zein, chief executive officer of Xcelium, stated that they are excited about the partnership and believes that it will strengthen their footprint in these markets. 

 “We have been working with Famous Brands since early 2013 on the granting of this Master License and are very excited that it has now been concluded,” said Zein.

“Our knowledge of the local markets and consumer expectations, together with Famous Brands’ professional structure, ongoing support and brand repertoire which accommodates a wide range of customers in our market, are significant factors in promoting the success of this venture.  We believe this partnership will also strengthen our position in acquiring prime retail sites in the market.”