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Fri 24 Dec 2010 12:00 AM

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A pinch of Indian flavour

Indian restaurant franchise Tiffinbites has its sights set on conquering the Middle East.

A pinch of Indian flavour
TIFFINBITES: The colourful franchise is set to make a splash in the local food and beverage market.

Indian restaurant franchise Tiffinbites has bought its
eclectic designs, bright colours and extensive menu to the Middle East with two
recently opened outlets in Dubai
— one at Mirdif City Centre and the newest at JBR Walk.

The franchise is the brainchild of Jamal Hirani, a
businessman who saw a gap in the UK market for healthy Indian food. Inspired
by his mother’s love of cooking and the potential for business growth in the
market, Hirani set about making his dream a reality and, with the help of co-founder
Jonathan Marks, introduced the Tiffinbites concept to the UK.

Fast forward seven years, and Tiffinbites is enjoying
success outside of the UK
market, with its second Middle Eastern outlet placed firmly in the buzzing
surroundings of the Walk.

It is here that the modern design, bright colours and
extensive menu are set to make an impact on the local food and beverage market,
where the concept has been franchised by newly formed company Sidra Investments.

“The colours in the design are very bright, very traditional
Indian colours,” explained Sidra CEO Radwan M. Masri.

“Pink, orange and green are our corporate colours and they
are very Indian, so we used these dominant colours for the interiors. Lighting
was also an important consideration — we have sparkling chandeliers and the
lighting creates a relaxed atmosphere which we wanted to do to appeal to young
people and to appeal to women.”

The relaxed feel of the place is underlined by the shared
benches, which create a more communal feel — something which has been very
successful in the UK outlets,
but is perhaps less of a familiar concept in the Middle
East.

“In the UK
[communal benches] are working more because people share tables more than here.
We knew we were going to find difficulties but we wanted to go with the same
thing – communal benches and we wanted to educate people how to start sharing
tables. You know the Noodle House and Wagamama have the same kind of concept
and it is working for them so we said why shouldn’t it work for us as well?”
Masri explained.

In bringing the Tiffinbites concept to the Middle Eastern
market, Masri is optimistic about its potential for growth.

“We have the franchise for the whole of the Gulf,” he
revealed.

“We are definitely rolling it out and we see a lot of
potential in the whole region as the food industry is really picking up.”

Masri also believes that Tiffinbites has something unique to
offer — stepping out of the shadows of other Indian restaurants in the region
by appealing to a different market.

“It is traditional [food] but very much traditional with a
twist — the twist is that Indian food has a lot of fat in it, a lot of ghee and
oil but our food is unique because it is very lean on the stomach, mild in
spices — because you want to target the masses basically,” Masri explained.

“When you talk about the Middle East, locals, women in
particular, they are not too keen on spices, so our food is not that spicy, it
is also very lean — you can come at lunchtime, have an Indian meal and then go
back to work; whereas normally an Indian meal at lunchtime would be very heavy
on the stomach and that is why it was successful in the UK, in the Canary Wharf
restaurant for example, they are packed at lunchtime,” he added.

The restaurant has certainly enjoyed success in the United
Kingdom, with Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty and her husband seeing potential
in the venture and investing in it (they currently own 33% of the UK franchise),
and Masri believes it is important to bring the same standards and values from
the UK franchise over to the Middle East.

“We have brand standards across the business, and this is a
good thing,” he asserted.

“This is one of the reasons why you invest in a franchise, because
you have a system and procedures put in place and it makes creation much easier.
Whatever you apply in one restaurant you apply in all of them, and when you do
marketing for one place, you are doing marketing for all of them — so you can [see
the same things in our restaurants] colour wise, uniform wise and so on,” Masri
added.

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