UK operator inks deal to open 18 Bella Italia outlets in Saudi Arabia

Casual Dining Group signs franchise agreement with Fawaz Alhokair Group to launch Italian restaurant brand in kingdom
UK operator inks deal to open 18 Bella Italia outlets in Saudi Arabia
By Staff writer
Sat 25 Jun 2016 12:29 AM

UK restaurant operator Casual Dining Group (CDG) has signed a franchise agreement with Fawaz Alhokair Group to operate an initial 18 Bella Italia outlets in Saudi Arabia over the next four years.

Fawaz Alhokair licenses and operates a range of international retail and leisure brands such as Marks & Spencer, Monsoon, GAP and Zara in the Middle East, and is opening new stores at a rate of an outlet-a-day in the region.

Sultan Alhokair, group vice president, food and entertainment, at Fawaz Alhokair, said in comments published by Hotelier Middle East: “We were impressed with Casual Dining Group’s portfolio of high-growth brands, operational support and their various offerings and are excited to begin a long-term relationship.”

The Italian restaurant chain’s operations will be led by Karim Hajjali, chief business development officer, under the leadership of Kamal Abusara, chief executive officer of Alhokair’s food and entertainment division.

Last year CDG, which also operates the Las Iguanas and Belgo brands in the UK, alongside its 115 Bella Italia restaurants, opened a Café Rouge in Dubai via franchise, and outlined its ambitions to accelerate its expansion in the Middle East.

CDG chief executive Steve Richards said: “We are pleased to announce this strategically important agreement with such a significant and respected partner. As a business we are building real momentum overseas – in addition, we are in meaningful discussions over similar partnerships across the Middle East and Asia regions, with further agreements in train.”

The company recently established a Dubai office led by Paul Smith, who was responsible for structuring the franchise deals that took Costa Coffee to China and then Dubai. Smith reports into Mark Nelson, managing director of CDG’s international franchising and concessions arm.

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