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Choithrams plans eight new upscale cafes in UAE and Bahrain

F&B offering to attract customers from residential and commercial towers

Gulf News

Dubai: Choitrams is planning to open eight gourmet cafes to be attached to their supermarkets in UAE and Bahrain, the company’s director told Gulf News.

“We see things turn around in the market and a lot of commercial and residential towers who require this offering. A lot of landlords aren’t just looking for run of the mill supermarkets, they want them to do over and above [that],” Manoj Thanwani, Director of Choithrams, said adding that an F&B service to the community is expected.

The Dubai-based international supermarket chain is looking to open an 8,000-square foot café in Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), six in Al Falah residential area on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi and another in Bahrain, Thanwani said.

In the UAE, three stores are scheduled to open by November or December, he said.

The Bahrain outlet, the first of the Choithrams cafes to expand into the GCC, is expected to open its doors to shoppers in November, he added.

Choithrams is planning to open 30 eateries in the next two years, according to Thanwani.

“It’s a different concept, moving away from core retailing into F&B.”

The F&B market here is a fast growing and explains Choithrams plans to tap into this opportunity, an analyst said.

“The consumer food service market is highly developed and rapidly growing in the UAE, with 11 per cent sales growth in 2011 according to Euromonitor research, thus there is very high potential for this industry,” said Sana Toukan, Research Manager at Euromonitor Middle East.

Gourmet offerings are also popular with affluent locals and high-income Arab and Western expats, she added.

“With a market predicted to see a compound annual growth rate of 6% over the next 5 years, there is definitely room for further expansion within this market with more tourists expected to flock into the country, a recovering economy which is expected to create more jobs and thus push more expatriated to the country, there is huge potential for further growth,” Toukan said.

But in a market already saturated with cafes, how would this concept stand out?

“We’ve done tremendous research and design. The market is saturated with large players from the international market and home grown ones, but not many can go in a cafe and shop and take out—and do that in a residential tower,” Thanwani said.

Kinnersley Kent UK, a retail F&B designer, is designing the look of the stores, he said, adding that Choithrams signed with Aldar Properties for the six stores in Al Falah.