A Dubai-based hospitality group has purchased the entire portfolio of British celebrity chef Marco Pierre White's brands outside the UK and Ireland.
Rmal Hospitality, which is owned by the Abu Dhabi-based Al Fahim Group, bought the brands, including Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, for an undisclosed sum.
The company has worked with White for the past seven years to develop his establishments in the UAE, which are the only Marco Pierre White-branded restaurants outside the UK and Ireland.
"I never wanted to be one of those chefs who owned restaurants 100 per cent globally because to be honest, you can't give your time," said White at a press conference in Dubai yesterday to announce the deal.
"I am so busy in the UK and in other countries doing my filming or doing whatever I am doing that you have to choose a strategic partner who you trust who has the same beliefs as yourself. I trust Walter [Hall, chief operating officer of Rmal] and I trust Anthony [Liddiard, chief executive of Rmal Hospitality] and I believe in them."
The chef, who has starred in television shows in the UK including Hell's Kitchen, was once dubbed the enfant terrible of the culinary world and was the youngest chef to be awarded three Michelin stars at the time. He is regarded by some to be the first celebrity chef.
There are currently five Marco Pierre White restaurants in the Emirates, including Wheeler's of St James in the Dubai International Financial Centre and a Marco Pierre White Steakhouse in Abu Dhabi. A Marco Pierre White Grill is also due to open at the new Conrad Hotel in Dubai this year.
"They are going to look at this restaurant and if that makes sense, we will further develop in other countries with Hilton. Those are the kinds of brands and the kind of partners that we want to work with," said Mr Liddiard of Rmal.
"We didn't go into this deal with Marco just to put flags on maps. That's an extremely dangerous exercise to take. We're not a fast-food chain." The company is also interested in developing other restaurant concepts with Mr White, added Mr Liddiard.