US pancake chain IHOP heads to the Middle East

Franchise deal with Kuwait’s Alshaya will see 40 outlets across MidEast in five years
IHOP plans to open its first Middle East store within 12 months
By Joanne Bladd
Tue 21 Jun 2011 10:57 AM

American pancake chain IHOP is set to open its doors in the Middle East after parent company DineEquity inked a franchise deal with Kuwait’s MH Alshaya Co.

The retail conglomerate plans to open 40 restaurants across the six Gulf states, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt in the next five years, marking IHOP’s first major expansion outside the US.

The pancake chain will open its first branch within 12 months, the companies said in a joint statement. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The franchise reflects DineEquity’s efforts to “grow our business by leveraging [our] brands and expanding beyond our markets we have traditionally served,” said Julia Stewart, DineEquity’s chairman and CEO.

IHOP has 1,500 restaurants and a franchise pipeline of a further 300, the company said.

Alshaya, one of the Gulf’s largest family-owned firms, has an extensive franchise portfolio that includes a string of US household name food and beverage brands.

The company has closed franchises in the last six months for the Chicago-based chain Potbelly Sandwich Shop, and a 22-outlet deal for New-York listed chain The Cheesecake Factory

Alshaya operates 2,000 stores across 15 countries, and counts brands such as Starbucks, Pizza Express, American Eagle, Boots and Pottery Barn in its portfolio.

The company employs around 20,000 people and operates 2,000 stores in 15 markets.

In November, the company said it planned to open 1,250 new stores over the next five years, creating an estimated 4,000 jobs.

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