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Sat 11 Jul 2015 09:34 AM

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Dubai's Marka inks deal for Morelli's Gelato franchise

Retail start-up pays more than $8m for Middle East operations; plans major expansion across the Gulf

Dubai's Marka inks deal for Morelli's Gelato franchise
Nick Peel, CEO of Marka.

Dubai's Marka, a retail start-up that listed on the emirate's bourse last year, has announced that it has acquired the Middle East franchise operations of Morelli's Gelato, in a deal worth AED31 million ($8.4 million).

The acquisition, which includes five outlets, will be integrated into Marka's dedicated food and beverage division, Marka Hospitality, a statement said.

Marka added that it has plans to expand by opening 17 additional Morelli's Gelato outlets in the MENA region by 2020.

The deal forms part of Marka's long-term vision and growth strategy of building a portfolio of premium brands and becoming a market leader sports, fashion and hospitality sectors across the Middle East.

"Morelli's Gelato is an important addition to Marka's hospitality portfolio. It is a renowned and profitable brand with a solid growth trajectory and an experienced and entrepreneurial management team. Morelli's has an enviable operational and financial reputation and is a perfect fit with Marka's next phase of growth and expansion," said Nick Peel, CEO of Marka.

Morelli's menu offers freshly prepared gelato scoops, sundaes, own-blend Kilimanjaro coffee, milkshakes, frappes and freshly baked cakes.

Currently franchised in the Middle East through Gourmet Gulf Food, Morelli's Middle East operations are located at Dubai Mall, The Beach mall opposite JBR, Bahrain City Centre, The Avenues mall in Kuwait and Mall of Dhahran in Saudi Arabia. A sixth location is opening at Dubai's Mall of the Emirates.

Marka's master franchise agreement will see Morelli's expand in the UAE and into the new markets of Qatar, Oman, Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Bibi Morelli Schofield, owner and managing director, Morelli's Gelato, said: "Our new partnership with Marka represents the next stage of development and expansion for Morelli's Gelato and we are delighted to be entering into this relationship, which we believe will build on our vision to bring our fresh gelato to a global clientele."

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