x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Another slice of America comes to the Middle East with Denny’s on its way

The South Carolina-based dining chain Denny's to open 30 stores in the Middle East in the next decade, with the first one in the UAE by 2015.

A Denny's employee carries a tray with free Grand Slam breakfasts for customers. The eaterie is heading to the Middle East. AP Photo/Alan Diaz
A Denny's employee carries a tray with free Grand Slam breakfasts for customers. The eaterie is heading to the Middle East. AP Photo/Alan Diaz

An Abu Dhabi company is bringing the biggest chain of diners in America to the Middle East.

The Nasdaq-listed Denny’s has entered into a franchise agreement with the UAE-based Advance Investment, an affiliate of Food Quest Restaurant Management.

Denny’s aims to open 30 restaurants in the Middle East in the next decade. The first will open in the UAE by 2015.

The deal increases Denny’s international pipeline to 60 restaurants.

The group had combined sales of US$247.2 million in the first three quarters of last year, down from $271.9m during the same period in 2012, according to the company.

South Carolina-based Denny’s, whose signature dish consists of pancakes, bacon and eggs, has been largely focused on the Americas. The chain’s first international restaurant was in Acapulco, Mexico, opening in 1966.

Today it has some 1,700 franchised, licensed and company-owned restaurants around the world, including 100 locations in Canada besides Central and South America and New Zealand.

The Middle East franchise market is worth $30 billion, according to Mana Al Suwaidi, the chief executive of Franchise Middle East Consultancy, which organises the Franchise UAE Expo.

“The UAE is a hub between the East and the West for new brands to be here besides its infrastructure and facilities are also attractive,” he said in an interview this week.

Internationally, 60 per cent of the franchise market is held by the food and beverage sector, and the figure is similar in the UAE.

“Access to the infrastructure such as the malls, and purchasing power of residents and travellers are also factors” in drawing international brands to the UAE and the region, Mr Al Suwaidi said.

Earlier this week, another US chain – Jamba Juice – announced a deal with Landmark Group’s Foodmark. It expects to open 80 outlets of the brand in the Middle East in the next decade.

In 2012, MH Alshaya Company brought The Cheesecake Factory to Dubai as well as the International House of Pancakes, also known as Ihop.

Apart from the UAE, Advance Investment has plans to open Denny’s in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan.

The company brought the United Kingdom’s Gourmet Burger Kitchen to the UAE, and it is working on bringing India’s Zambar Coastal Kitchen, Punjab Grill and Asia7 owned by the New Delhi-based Lite Bite Foods.

ssahoo@thenational.ae