UAE investment firm buys luxury foods importer

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Abu Dhabi investment firm Gulf Capital has announced the acquisition of Chef Middle East, an importer and distributor of high-end, specialty and fine food products from around the world.

The company has bought a 100 percent stake from Vintage Holdings in Chef which was established in 1995 in Dubai as a regional supplier of the fine foods to the hotel, food services, casual dining and airline industries.

Chef services more than 1,000 customers in the UAE, Qatar and Oman, a statement said without giving the value of the deal.

Through a leverage buy-out structure funded by a combination of equity and debt from Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Gulf Capital has acquired the shares and assets of Chef, including its 5,000 square meters warehousing facilities and headquarters at Dubai Investment Park, its distribution centres and cold storage facilities across the UAE, Doha and Muscat, as well as its modern fleet of 50 temperature-controlled trucks.

Dr Karim El Solh, CEO of Gulf Capital said: "We are excited to be exposed to the thriving food and consumer sector in a growing niche through a highly reputable market leader, such as 'Chef'.

"The strong underlying growth of the sector is driven by positive market fundamentals that continue to fuel the upward trend in the economy, including a booming population; growth in non-oil sectors such as tourism, manufacturing, transport and logistics, and services; and an increase in consumer spending."

The food and beverage market is estimated to be worth over AED6bn in the UAE and forecast to grow by 7-10 percent per annum.

Richard Dallas, managing director - Private Equity at Gulf Capital, added: "We intend to work with the management team on enhancing the sophistication levels and professionalism of distribution and logistics in the region to help our customer base operate in a more efficient and reliable manner."

Chef supplies some of the world's leading food products from many European countries as well as Australia and Japan in the dry, chilled and frozen categories including cheese, chocolate, poultry, egg products, oils, vinegars, spices, pickles and condiments.

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