By Staff writer
First Group announces plan for new F&B division to launch 30 new outlets
The First Group, an international hotel and property development company, has launched a dedicated F&B business that will introduce new restaurant brands to Dubai, some of which will be global firsts.
In a move that marks significant expansion for the Dubai-based firm, the new division will fill the gap in the market for affordable lifestyle-driven dining concepts, as demand in the midscale and upscale hospitality sectors starts to boom, it said in a statement.
The F&B division aims to launch 30 new outlets in the coming years.
Heading up the new venture is Duncan Fraser-Smith, who was recently appointed director of Global Food & Beverage for The First Group.
Fraser-Smith aims to develop high street and hotel-based bars, cafés, restaurants and lifestyle outlets to pioneer “industry-disrupting concepts” that are designed to take Dubai’s dining scene by storm, the statement added.
The dedicated F&B business will create fresh brands and bring new and established franchises to the city, with the first outlets to be rolled out at properties developed by The First Group including Wyndham Dubai Marina, Metro Central in Barsha Heights and the soon-to-open TRYP by Wyndham Dubai, also in the Barsha Heights precinct.
“Dubai’s F&B sector is booming, but while the budget and high-end dining scene are well served, the midmarket is not as well catered for. The First Group’s new venture bridges this gap,” said Rob Burns, chief operating officer, The First Group.
“Just as demand for the midscale and upscale hotel sector is gaining pace – a market we are targeting with our expanding portfolio of hotel properties – so consumer appetite for affordable dining has never been so strong.”
The UAE’s F&B market was valued at more than $11.7 billion in 2015, according to KPMG, citing data from market research firm Euromonitor.
This figure is set to rise to $13.2 billion by the end of 2018, achieving an annual growth rate of 4 percent, while revenue growth is likely to outstrip outlet growth by around 30 percent as tourism arrivals rocket in the lead up to Expo 2020 Dubai.
The company said its priority is to “re-position” existing outlets currently dealt with by The First Group’s asset management division, TFG Asset Management, with one at Metro Central and three at Wyndham Dubai Marina, as well as positioning the three new offerings at TRYP by Wyndham Dubai.
It then plans to reveals a global first concept to Dubai's market, with Fraser-Smith saying: “We’re keeping details under wraps for now, but it will be an industry-disrupting concept, the first of its kind, not only in Dubai, but internationally.
“Dubai is one of the best places in the world to launch new restaurants and bars because you are catering to a market of people who love eating out. We want to provide them with something out of the box; casual, mid-range bistro-style concepts that are fun, affordable, but above all, serve fantastic food and deliver great service.”
He added: “We will work very closely with hotel owners and operators to create new concepts that meet market demand, managing all aspects of the operation, from idea conception and outlet design to staff recruitment and training.
“We will help them carve a niche in a market that’s brimming with opportunities, whetting the appetite of residents and visitors looking for casual places to drink and dine that don’t break the budget.”
With its headquarters in Dubai and global presence spanning Algeria, Azerbaijan, Ghana, India, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Oman, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, The First Group said its client base is expanding rapidly.