Gaucho plans sizzling entry into Middle East market

London-based upmarket steakhouse chain to spend as much as $120m on expansion
Gaucho plans sizzling entry into Middle East market
Gaucho is one of a number of high end restaurants looking at expansion opportunities in the GCC
By Claire Ferris-Lay
Thu 08 Sep 2011 08:10 AM

Gaucho, the upmarket chain of steakhouses, plans to spend as much as $120m on expanding its brand in the region as it looks to grow its business outside of its home market, its international operations director has told Arabian Business.

The London-based firm, which opens its first UAE restaurant in Dubai International Financial Centre at the beginning of October, is looking to open 10-15 restaurants across the GCC and Turkey.

“If you include Turkey [we plan to open] around 10-15 restaurants up from the two we have now…Currently within the region we have [restaurants] in Beirut and Dubai and we have a location in Abu Dhabi, which we haven’t signed yet. That will be open the end of next year,” Ryan Hattingh told Arabian Business.

“I think Doha is another one. With what’s happened this year politically you sort of slow down a wee bit to reconsider and reassess but I do still think there is potential here,” he said.

Each new Gaucho restaurant will cost around $4-8m to refit and will be company funded, added Hattingh.

Gaucho is one of a number of high end restaurants looking at expansion opportunities in the GCC. The Ivy, Zuma and Hakkasan have all opened restaurants in the UAE in the last few years amid an increase in spending in full service restaurants in the Gulf state.

Spending in full-service restaurants in the UAE has increased from $1.4bn in 2005 to almost $1.9bn last year, according to estimates from Euromonitor International.

Gaucho, which also operates a chain of Argentinean ice-cream parlours called Freggo and a second steakhouse brand named Cau, saw its revenues increase 11.5 percent to £50.6m ($80.9m) in the year ending to December as it defied difficult economic conditions in the UK.

The chain of restaurants, a favourite among London city traders, has managed to outperform its peers due to its strong presence in high spending areas in London such as Canary Wharf and Soho.

The company cancelled a £115m IPO amid the global economic downturn in 2007 but pulled off a management buyout backed by Intermediate Capital Group later that year. Since then it has added several new outlets including two franchise restaurants in Kuwait.

Gaucho’s directors in August said they planned to maintain grow levels by continuing to open new sites.

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