Diversifying into the Quick Service Food franchise sector from consumer electronics may seem like an odd move but for Niranjan Gidwani, Deputy CEO of the Eros Group in Dubai it made perfect sense.
Eros Group is one of the top three consumer electronics groups in the Gulf Region. Niranjan explains: “Eating on the go is on the increase in Dubai which is an international transit hub for some 21 countries. However, we realized that there were very few options for healthy eating and snacking as an alternative to the fast food burger and chicken outlets. We therefore started looking for a solution whereby we could introduce healthy, fresh, high quality fast food to the United Arab Emirates.”
He added: “As we did not have any experience of the food and beverage sector we looked for a partner with an established brand, solid operational experience and a strong management team. We then became across Baguette Express who are headquartered in Scotland who fulfilled all of our criteria and as a turnkey franchise operation we could easily import the concept into Dubai. That was in November 2013 and we now have four company-owned stores in Dubai, which are performing very well. We are now aiming to open another three to four outlets this year across the UAE.”
“The great thing about the Baguette Express concept is the sheer variety. We not only offer a huge range of sandwiches, fillings and sauces but we also have soups, salads, pizza and pastas. We also have a casual dining option in the evening which brings a whole new dimension to the business. Dubai is very diverse with over 200 nationalities working and living here. We have therefore adapted the menu to global tastes introducing new recipes such as the chicken tikka baguette, for example .
“The support from the franchisor has been great. Whenever we opened they seconded someone from head office to spend 2-3 weeks in Dubai to ensure all the systems and procedures were set up correctly. It is a great opportunity to exchange ideas and learn what works in established franchised outlets. We acknowledged that our limited experience of the food and beverage sector could be a disadvantage so we have employed a highly experienced general manager who managed hotels for the Jumeirah and Oberoi hotel groups, two of the leading hotel groups in the region. He is also a qualified chef so he is constantly developing new menu suggestions to enhance our offering.”
What’s next for the Eros Group? “The Baguette Express brand is growing in importance all the time and are rapidly reaching a point of critical mass. Once this happens we will be looking to recruit franchisees to start up more Baguette Express outlets throughout the Gulf Region.”
A Baguette Express franchise can be established in a number of formats according to location. There is a retail and kiosk model to attract customers in high footfall locations such as shopping centres, business parks, universities, hospitals, airports and train stations.