EXCLUSIVE: Jones the Grocer to expand in Gulf

Australian healthy eating concept will open new Dubai outlet; eyeing Kuwait and Saudi Arabia
EXCLUSIVE: Jones the Grocer to expand in Gulf
John Manos, director, Jones the Grocer.
By Daniel Shane
Tue 04 Sep 2012 10:10 AM

Jones the Grocer, an Australia-based healthy eating concept,
is to add an additional outlet in Dubai and is currently plotting its expansion
into further Gulf territories including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

In an interview with Arabian Business, director John Manos
said that the chain was in the process of confirming the lease for a second
restaurant and food retail outlet in Dubai to compliment its existing one on Sheikh Zayed Road.

“We’re just finalising a second site in Dubai, we’re looking
at a second site in Doha and one in Kuwait, and we’ve also done some work in
Saudi Arabia in terms of assessing the market,” he said. Jones the Grocer opened its first Dubai outlet last year and its site in the Qatari capital in early 2012.

“[Kuwait] will probably be in the next eight months. We’re
talking to various people at the moment and we’re hoping to progress our
discussions to the next level in three or four weeks,” Manos added.

Jones the Grocer currently has five restaurants in Abu Dhabi
and one in Dubai, in addition to one in Qatar and ten across Australia, New
Zealand and Singapore.

The firm’s decision to expand in the region comes on the
back of Singapore-based private equity fund L Capital Asia announcing in August
it would take a 50 percent stake in the business, Manos said.

Due to foreign ownership regulations in the UAE, Manos said
that the brand does not have full ownership of its outlets in the Gulf state,
but instead takes an equity stake up to 49 percent – the maximum permitted - in
its partner’s business.

Manos said that while Jones the Grocer’s current focus was
the Gulf, long-term it would look to open further outlets elsewhere in the
Middle East.

“We’ve had a lot of interest out of places like Lebanon,
Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey but we’ll just take the Gulf to
start with and go from there,” he said. He expects the brand to move into
Kuwait “in the next eight months”, with other territories outside the Gulf
being “12-month to 18-month horizon”.

Manos said the firm is targeting a contribution of “30
percent to 35 percent” of Jones the Grocer’s approximately AUD$40m (US$41.1m) per
year revenue from the region.

Manos added that Jones the Grocer sources a significant volume
of its produce from the region and believes there is a substantial addressable
market for healthy eating in the Middle East.

“I only see [it] growing and as our type of business
makes it presence more and more in this market what you’ll find is people will
continue to become more selective about what they’re eating,” he added.

Founded in 1996 with a single store Woollahra, Australia,
Manos said Jones the Grocer is aiming for hefty global expansion in the coming

“I see us probably having 50 to 60 stores in the next five
years and probably being a AUS$150m to AUS$200m business in the next five to
six years – so we’re looking for quite rapid growth and I think with the new
partnership [with L Capital Asia] as well we’ll be able to achieve that,” Manos

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