First US brands win race to enter Libya

Cinnabon and Carvel set up shop in Tripoli, other franchises expected to follow
First US brands win race to enter Libya
By Ed Attwood
Thu 02 Aug 2012 12:15 PM

The opening of a small bakery in Tripoli early last month has marked the first time that a US brand has launched in Libya.

Seattle-based Cinnabon, which describes itself as “the market leader among cinnamon roll bakeries” and has more than 900 locations in 51 countries, had been planning the outlet for over two years.

The launch was delayed due to last year’s revolution, during which long-term Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed.

The Cinnabon location, which is co-branded with Carvel – an ice-cream brand – is based on a busy street in Tripoli’s business district. The site was developed by franchise partners Arief and Ahmed Swaidek, who have plans to add “at least ten” more Cinnabon stores in the next five years.

The brothers will also add more Carvel and Moe’s Southwest Grill locations in the country.

Post-Gaddafi, and after elections last month that were described as “peaceful and smooth by EU observers, more franchise deals are certain to follow.

Two fast food brands that already have a presence in the Middle East are currently working to open up the Libyan market.

New Zealand-based Burgerfuel announced earlier this year that it was planning to open a franchised restaurant in Tripoli in 2013. Meanwhile, California’s Johnny Rockets has already sold franchise rights in Libya, although it has not begun operations there yet.

Libya is one of the few countries in which McDonald's, the world’s biggest restaurant chain, does not have a presence. However, the firm’s website does indicate that the snack food giant has the North African nation on its radar.

“We have not set a firm date for the development of McDonald's restaurants in Libya,” a statement on the franchising section of the McDonalds website reads. “In the future we may take steps to open McDonald's restaurants in Libya.”

Dunkin’ Donuts is also rumoured to be interested in the market, while Burger King’s website indicates that there are “currently no franchising opportunities” available in Libya.

British firms, which have been operating in Libya since then-prime minister Tony Blair brokered a rapprochement with Gaddafi in 2004, were hard-hit by the uprising in 2011.

Marks & Spencer, Next, Monsoon and Dune are among the retailers that have operations in Tripoli and the second city of Benghazi. 

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