I want to sell ice to the eskimos,” mohi-din BinHendi cackles. “No, really I want to go to America and franchise my own brands,” he backtracks.
Those who have ever met the Emirati businessman will know there is likely to be some truth in his Eskimo statement. The man behind one of Dubai’s most successful retail conglomerates, the eponymous BinHendi Enterprises, didn’t get to where he is today without thinking big.
BinHendi opened Dubai’s first designer brand, Pierre Cardin, in the emirate more than 40 years ago and has since gone on to establish one of the country’s oldest conglomerates. With business interests spanning everything from property to fashion and hospitality across the UAE, India and other Gulf states, the privately-owned company generates millions of dollars a year in revenues.
Now, having spent the last four decades introducing some of the world’s most luxurious brands such as Hugo Boss, Nicole Farhi and Porsche Design to the Gulf, BinHendi is turning his business model on its head and hoping to sell his own brands abroad. Enter the subsidiary 7Franchise Group, operator of several of BinHendi’s own-branded cafes such as Second Cup, Japengo Café and Havana Café, which he established late last year in a bid to become the largest franchiser in the Gulf.
“I have come to the conclusion that getting franchises from outside [the region] does not mean that we are doing any creative work but rather bringing a success story back here. I have decided that I want to make my own success story within my country,” he explains.
“The GCC might not be as big as America in terms of market share, volume or population but [retail] is an important pillar for growth and it’s a significant area with significant appetite for opening businesses.
“If I operate these brands successfully then there is no reason for them not to be successful in any other country,” he adds.
BinHendi hopes that 7Franchise Group, which currently operates only a few stores across the region, will become a significant player in the BinHendi Enterprises portfolio. Last month he opened Now Café in Dubai Mall and plans are already under way to expand its Extreme Shawarma and Rockstar Café brands across the UAE. Over the next five years, BinHendi hopes to open up to 100 stores and restaurants across the region under the 7Franchise Group umbrella.
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