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Tue 18 Dec 2018 10:59 AM

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'I will never franchise global brands again,' says Dubai F&B boss

Mansour Bin Jabr, founder of Mr Miyagi's, warned against 'ridiculous' franchise fees and mistakes made by international brands who are unfamiliar with the market

'I will never franchise global brands again,' says Dubai F&B boss

The head of a Dubai hospitality firm has warned against paying hefty franchise fees for international brands which are unfamiliar with the market, encouraging the establishment and franchising of homegrown brands instead.

Speaking to Arabian Business, Mansour Bin Jabr, partner at 4-Front Facilities, said global brands are more likely to make mistakes when operating in Dubai, revealing plans to franchise his own local concepts.

“[Many F&B companies] go towards fine dining and bring an international brand to let them run it, but we’re bringing homegrown concepts. Why go to an international brand and pay ridiculous franchise and management fees to someone who will come to your own country and doesn’t know how the country or the market works? Why?” he said.

His Dubai-based company is the firm behind local concepts such as Mr Miyagi’s, Stars N Bars and The Scene.

“We’ve got people who have been here and who have been doing this for 20 years. They know the market. International brands will come here and make mistake they didn’t know about. I will never franchise global brands again. I believe I will franchise my brands to abroad. It’s the other way around. It’s our time now,” he said.

Bin Jabr added that Dubai has become a brand name for F&B around the world, crediting it with the success of Japanese concept Zuma, which initially opened in London but gained global recognition following its success in DIFC.

“Zuma grew from Dubai. People may not see it, but it did blow up from Dubai. The owner said it himself. A lot of brands which start in Dubai have the opportunity to grow internationally, but no one is taking the risk to go global,” he said.

Bin Jabr, however, is franchising several Dubai concepts abroad, including Stars N Bars in Sri Lanka and Mr Miyagi’s and Casa de Cuba in the Caribbean and the Caymen Islands.

The partner at 4-Front Facilities was previously responsible for bringing global Italian concept Cipriani to Yas Island in 2010 and London-based concept Peyote to DIFC in 2017. While Cipriani was later bought by the Bulldozer Group, Peyote closed after just a year of operations. Bin Jabr said both instances were a result of market unawareness by the franchised brands.

“[The owner of Peyote] came in and didn’t know how the market works. He didn’t know how contractors work, how suppliers work. He didn’t know what people want. Cipriani did the same mistake with us when we opened back in 2010,” he said.

He added that the Dubai F&B sector is not big enough for restaurants to rebound from mistakes.

“They learned their mistakes here, but why make them in this business? There isn’t a big enough population… If people make these mistakes here, they won’t want to come back,” he said.

Bin Jabr is also the COO of Abu Dhabi-based Bin Jabr Group, which boasts a portfolio of businesses in sectors ranging from military vehicle manufacturing to restaurants and kitchen fit-outs. The group is responsible for creating the UAE’s first Arab-built military vehicle and first Arab-built submarine under Nimr Automotives, a joint venture with Jordanian government entity King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) to produce the 6x6 multipurpose vehicle and later, the undersea vessel. 

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