Bateel set to enter Asian markets in a big way

Gourmet date company Bateel is set to conquer the fine foods market on a global scale - the Saudi Arabian company is entering Asia next month and has plans to also open franchises in the U.S. and Europe.

Gulf News

Gourmet date company Bateel is set to conquer the fine foods market on a global scale - the Saudi Arabian company is entering Asia next month and has plans to also open franchises in the U.S. and Europe.

While Bateel stores already have a strong presence in the Middle East, Kuala Lumpur-based Bateel Asia aims to do the same in its region now that it has the rights to franchise Bateel stores in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei.

The first international franchise store is set to open in November at Kuala Lumpur's famed Twin Towers.

The other stores, in Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei, are to open in the latter half of next year. In five years, Asia will likely have about 35 Bateel outlets, said Ungku Mohammed, director, Bateel Asia. Each outlet costs about $200,000 to set up, he added.

In future, Mohammed would like to see some of Bateel's products manufactured in Malaysia. But the expansion plans do not end there: stores are to be set up around the world almost quicker than a date grows on a tree.

The next region that the company plans to move into is the U.S., said Ata Atmar, general manager, Bateel International: "We are about to sign a contract for the Washington and New York area. The U.S. is a huge market and we do not know how many stores we might have there but initially we expect more than 10 Bateel stores."

And by the end of the year, the company hopes to enter the European market. "I think Europe will be our biggest market because people from Mediterranean countries like dates," he said.

"By the end of the year we will be in Europe with at least one store."

Worldwide, Bateel aims to have 20 outlets by the end of this year and 50 by the end of next year, said Atmar.

He added there was no hesitation on the company's part to invest in expanding at a time when confidence is low. "We are not here for one to two years - we are here for the long term," explained Atmar.

"The recent events in the U.S. did effect us but we are not fazed by it because we are looking forward to the next 30 years and are confident about the future."

"We are even hiring people when others are laying them off."

Presently there are two Bateel stores in Dubai - at the Jumeirah Town Centre and Bur Juman Centre - but by the end of this month another store will open at Deira City Centre.

Now that Bateel has established itself in the Middle East, and in the wholesale market to premium hotels, it is ready to expand internationally.

"The company has been established for about 10 years and in terms of outlets in Dubai we have enough; our major move now is into the international market," said Atmar.

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