Dubai: One of India’s biggest ‘all-virtual’ F&B brands, Rebel Foods, is making a splashy entry into Saudi Arabia with two cloud kitchens in Riyadh. The target – develop into a $100 million food order and delivery business in the Kingdom in 3 years.
Rebel Foods is bringing in all of its hyper-popular brands to Saudi Arabia, including The Messy Burger, Oven Story Pizzas, Fricken’ Fried Chicken, and The 500 Calorie Project. The company reckons that the present and immediate future offer the best opportunities to spread the cloud kitchen and virtual food brand concept in the Gulf’s biggest market.
Already present in UAE, Rebel Foods will scale up operations and leverage the ‘power of our brands’, and ‘aim to reach 60 plus internet restaurants in Riyadh in the next 12 months,” said Vishal Khithani, CEO, International Markets. “We also want to expand our presence to other cities.
“We want to cater to customer ‘wants' and provide them with a seamless food delivery experience. We want our brands to become a go-to choice for anyone looking for food, delivered right to their doorstep.”
Food too takes on digital aspects
The cloud kitchen concept – where operators manage big-sized operations rather than rely on kitchens inside restaurants – was a major category winner during Covid times. Dubai in particular saw a mushrooming of these operations since late 2020, which went hand-in-hand with the growth being delivered for the food order and delivery business.
Then came the explosion in virtual F&B concepts, where these entities operate only in the non-physical space. And build a loyal customer base through online channels. In the UAE, these brands saw a sustained level of growth during the Expo phase and continues to do so even now.
Sizzling Saudi prospects?
Saudi Arabian cities are rated as ripe for organic expansion of these trends.
“After our humble success in the UAE, we recognized the immense potential of the Saudi Arabian market, particularly in cloud kitchen and foodtech sector,” said Khithani. “The Saudi market is experiencing a double-digit increase in demand. We are making significant investments to establish a robust cloud kitchen network and introduce and strengthen our brands in Saudi Arabia.
"Being the world’s largest cloud kitchen restaurant in the world, we are bullish about our growth and we aim to continue expanding our footprint across borders. We have successfully ventured into international markets - the UAE, the UK, and Indonesia."
The company launched in 2011 - as a physical restaurant operator. It was in 2015 that the move into the cloud kitchen format was made. A year later, it turned itself into a cloud-only operator.
Even with the Saudi ambtions, "We firmly believe there is still so much more we can bring to the UAE market," said Khithani. "We see plenty of room for growth, and we're determined to keep surprising and delighting our customers with new and innovative offerings in a customer-first manner."
Some industry sources believe the cloud kitchen expansion possibilities within Dubai is at a near saturation stage. Most of the major residential and commercial locations already have extensive coverage from operators. and that it will need a further extension of the city to seed more cloud kitchens.
"Before launching, we conducted extensive research and engaged with thousands of consumers to understand their 'wants'," said Vishal Khithani. "We discovered that customers often felt that health and taste didn't go hand-in-hand.
"We decided to cater to this unmet demand and created a brand that offers healthy - and delicious - meals under 500 calories."