Kitopi has been fueled by a $415 million funding round from last year. The platform operates more than 100 F&B brands. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: One of the biggest names in the cloud kitchen space, Kitopi has bought out Dubai-based F&B business AWJ, and the name behind delivery and dine-in brands such as Operation Falafel, Catch 22, Awani, and Sushi Do.

The latter opened its first outlet in Dubai in 2014 and since expanded the line up to more than 10 brands and 32 plus outlets in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Operation Falafel has more than 2 million customers globally per year.

AWJ also has franchises running in New York and London. It employs more than 1,300.

Cloud kitchen and virtual-only restaurant brands have had three record years of growth and the trend is set to continue as the concept expands in the core UAE and Saudi markets and starts seeing itself in others.

Kitopi itself has raised a significant funding corpus to fire its expansion and deals. Last year in March, it announced a $415 million funding round that saw Japanese investment heavyweight Softbank come into the picture.

Kitopi now has over 100 brands, operating in more than 200 locations across five markets. The deal – the value is undisclosed - will see the AWJ brands ‘eye expansion in new markets where Kitopi has a solidified presence and a vast network of locations’. AWJ will also benefit from Kitopi’s SKOS (Smart Kitchen Operating System) platform.

“The co-founders and leaders of AWJ have done a remarkable job in building its iconic brands and growing them across borders,” said Mohamad Ballout, CEO and co-founder of Kitopi. “It is going to be a privilege to continue to innovate, elevate and expand its success.”

AWJ will have a new CEO but retain their original team and operate as a separate vertical to Kitopi’s on-demand business.

Founded in Dubai in January 2018, Kitopi has over 5000 employees, and has offices in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. It also operates an engineering hub in Krakow, Poland, a global customer experience center in Dubai, and a Robotics Hub in Odense, Denmark.

We have built on core fundamentals, raising the bar and setting the business up for a sustainable future - thanks to our 1,300+ team champions, our supporting shareholders, the unique brands we created, and the millions of consumers we serve. It is now time for a new chapter

- Manhal Naser, former Group CEO and co-founding Director of AWJ