Following the success of its first branch in the Burjuman shopping mall, Filipino fast food restaurant Pancake House says it now plans to open in Dubai Mall sometime in June.
“It’ll be our first brand in Dubai Mall, showcasing what Pancake House is all about, to all nationalities, doesn’t have to be Filipino,” said Robert Trota, president and chief executive of Max’s Group Inc (MGI).
Manila-headquartered MGI owns the rights to a number of franchises, including Yellow Cab Pizza, Jamba Juice, Krispy Kreme, and Max’s Restaurant, operating throughout Asia-Pacific, the US and the Middle East.
From left: Peter King, CEO, Max’s Group Inc, Sajan Alex, Vice President, Tablez Food Company, Robert Trota and William E. Rodgers, Director and Head of International Business. AP
With a slightly upgraded menu offering for Dubai Mall, the company hopes that the restaurant, which will be located in the mall’s food court, will prove to be as successful as the Burjuman branch.
Dubai’s first Pancake House has proven a hit, clocking in an average daily transaction rate of over 400 sales.
Asked whether the significantly higher rents in Dubai Mall provided added pressure, the vice president of local franchisee Tablez, the food and beverage arm of conglomerate Lulu, said it undoubtedly would.
“If I said there was no pressure, I’d be lying to myself, but we’ve got the product, price points, and the location right,” said Sajan Alex, vice president of Tablez.
Among its competition, Pancake House will be competing for supremacy with Ihop, the famous America pancake chain, when it opens in Dubai Mall in the coming weeks.
On this, Alex was confident that the mall’s estimated 70 million visitors would provide enough business to go around.
“There’s 100 per cent space for two pancake restaurants,” he said, adding: “This is not commercial pancakes either, these are pancakes built from scratch.”
Alex noted that the pancakes were at “great price points.”
“You’re not paying through the roof.”
Another concern for both the franchiser, Max’s Group, and the franchisee Tablez, is the soft retail environment that has persisted since the middle of 2015, according to Alex.
“The UAE as a whole, we’ve seen substantial trading loss, value loss. Since 2015, it’s been continuous headwind. Of course Abu Dhabi was hit harder than Dubai,” he said.
Whilst Tablez has not been forced to close any branches, it has been forced to search for internal efficiencies.
The company says that it is anticipating an economic upswing by the end of 2018, and it is planning accordingly for Pancake House.
“Our number in mind is 10 [stores in the UAE]. Number three, after BurJuman and Dubai Mall, is going in World Trade Centre Mall in Abu Dhabi,” Alex said.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi could potentially both see a couple more branches open, he said, while each of the other five emirates would likely see one open in their local LuLu malls.
This confidence is based on a number of factors, according to Alex.
“We are heavily focused on Pancake House as a brand, because the unit economic model is very attractive,” he said.
“This size is right, the capital expenditure is not astronomical, the unit economic model is sound and healthy. In terms of the productivity of capital I put in, this brand is highly productive,” Alex added.
Source: Gulf News