x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Milky concoctions to shake up region

Millions of Milkshakes is set to embark on a global expansion plan once it opens in Dubai next month with the help of Kim Kardashian.

Kim Kardashian is expected to be at the opening of Millions of Milkshakes to cut the ribbon. AP Photo / Chris Pizzello
Kim Kardashian is expected to be at the opening of Millions of Milkshakes to cut the ribbon. AP Photo / Chris Pizzello

Millions of Milkshakes, a Hollywood brand built on celebrity endorsement, will expand into the Middle East when it opens its first store in the region next month.

The chain, which sells more than 70 variations on the milkshake customised by various celebrities, plans to open in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

"Abu Dhabi will be next," said Sheeraz Hasan, the founder of Millions of Milkshakes and hollywood.tv. "We will look at opening a store there next year."

The brand will launch its first store in the Middle East in Dubai Mall next month, with the US celebrity Kim Kardashian expected to be there to cut the ribbon.

The expansion of Millions of Milkshakes in the region is part of a global plan to open in as many as 100 countries where the company has secured the naming rights for the brand.

With two stores in Los Angeles, the company is in the middle of leasing negotiations for locations in Las Vegas, New York, Miami, Disney World and Universal Studios.

It is also in discussions about opening a store to Westfield Stratford City in London ahead of the Olympic Games being held in the UK capital next summer.

Millions of Milkshakes builds its brand on celebrities visiting the store and making their own milkshakes.

"I invited Kim Kardashian to launch the first Millions of Milkshakes in 2008, and when she went behind the bar and made her shake, pretty much Millions of Milkshakes was born," said Mr Hasan.

About 80 per cent of the celebrities are paid to come to the store, while 20 per cent walk in of their own accord, he said.

He would not disclose how much the company pays celebrities for the endorsement or the cost of the planned expansion, but said he would now look at using Bollywood and Arab stars to sell new stores across the Middle East.

"I can't talk numbers," he said. "But we have come up with a great formula that works for us because you have to remember the PR value that the star gets, it's a huge upside."

Celebrities who have created milkshakes or entered the stores in Los Angeles include Miley Cyrus, Pamela Anderson, David Beckham and Leonardo DiCaprio.

"Lindsay Lohan was having troubles in her career and came into Million of Milkshakes," said Mr Hasan. "She went to jail, came back out, made a milkshake and went back in again, so timing is everything for us.

"When you are bringing a star in, you do it when it's win-win. Some stars you have to pay, some you don't."

rjones@thenational.ae