x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Just Falafel in Dubai to test appetite for IPO

Companies usually go public to raise funds. But one Dubai franchise is weighing the option for an altogether different reason.

Fadi Malas, chief executive of Just Falafel, says an IPO would
Fadi Malas, chief executive of Just Falafel, says an IPO would "give our brand the highest possible visibility." Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Companies usually decide to go public to raise funds. But not Just Falafel.
The Dubai franchise is weighing the option for an altogether different reason.
"Our objective is not to raise funds. It is to give our brand the highest possible visibility," said Fadi Malas, the chief executive of Just Falafel.
"It is very important for us, that rather than having a handful of partners, to have a few million shareholders. The only way to achieve that is by taking the company public. For us it's a huge marketing play to go public," he added.
The company announced its plan yesterday by posting a picture on its Facebook page of executives sitting around a table with the caption "Dubai SME [small and medium enterprises] and Nasdaq at JF offices laying the roadmap for a potential IPO".
Only two stocks are currently traded on the Nasdaq Dubai following the delisting of Damas International.
However, the exchange received a boost this month with the news that it is in line for its first new public share sale since 2008 after RegisCard announced its intention to list. Nasdaq welcomed the prospect of a new issuer yesterday but said it could not comment on specific listings.
"With the support of Dubai SME, we are working with a number of SME businesses to explore options for capital raising on the Nasdaq Dubai markets," said a spokeswoman.
But Nasdaq Dubai is only one of the options on the table for Just Falafel. "To be honest, it is early days for us to make a decision on which market to list [on] because we are not experts yet in that area, but we will see what makes the most sense for the brand and what gives it the highest visibility," said Mr Malas.
He added it was possible the company may opt for a dual or even a triple listing.
"IBM trades on many exchanges," said Mr Malas.
Any initial public offering would help the company in its aim to further educate consumers about its fare.
"Going forward the higher visibility that it will receive across millions of other shareholders they will see that, yes, this is in a category of its own and it will give us faster growth and helps us also to do a huge education about the food itself, which has long been forgotten," he said.
Just Falafel currently operates 20 outlets, 18 of which are in the UAE. It aims to open an average of one a week throughout the rest of the year and has about 10 under construction at present.
gduncan@thenational.ae
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