Comment: Brand intelligence in F&B in the GCC

Why resting on your laurels is not enough in this industry - it's time to work harder

Devina Divecha
Devina Divecha

In the last few months, a plethora of new restaurants have opened their doors, and many more deals have been signed — a mark of confidence in the GCC’s F&B market, where mass chains are increasingly giving way to high-end global brands looking to get a piece of this lucrative region where people love to eat.

Caterer Middle East is a champion of home-grown concepts, but few would deny the advantages of having more internationally recognised brands in the region. They increase the level of competition and lend established venues the fresh impetus they need to excel. In F&B, as in all walks of life, necessity is the mother of invention.

The Caterer Middle East Power List exemplifies this sentiment. The people who made the list were included because they have achieved a great deal in the last 12 months.

While it reflects the experience of the region’s F&B leaders and the size and scope of their operations, it also spotlights the dynamism of individuals who pushed themselves more than most to innovate and move the industry forward.

These people may be known in the business, but what exactly have they done on a regular basis to ensure there’s progress in this sector? That’s what our Power List celebrates and it’s what we want to see more of.

Consider how Reflets Par Pierre Gagnaire saw the need to create an alternative product — Choix Par Pierre Gagnaire. Or how Jumeirah is re-configuring its approach to emphasising standalone restaurants. Movements like these represent another death knell for outlets that refuse to innovate, change and evolve.

Another example of restaurants that haven’t evolved is the uninspired way in which outlets cannot see beyond the use of endangered species of fish such as hammour. We talk about this a lot at Caterer Middle East, but that is because we are trying to champion change.

Many say customers demand it, so they dare not remove it. Chefs and restaurateurs should be able to think of alternative ways of getting these recalcitrant customers to eat sustainable seafood. To employ a cliché, there are plenty more fish in the sea — restaurants should start using them. It’s a telling sign if they say they cannot.

And it’s not like customers don’t explore and experiment. Just look at the success of quirky places like Japanese patisserie Yamanote Atelier, or the roving burger food truck Salt.

Speaking of food trucks, we are definitely seeing a lot more movement in this end of the sector, and we have news to share in forthcoming issues on this front. We truly believe that 2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year, and we cannot wait to see what comes next.

Devina Divecha
Senior Editor — Hospitality Group
Twitter/Instagram: CatererME
Facebook: CatererMiddleEast

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