DUBAI: Round Table Pizza Dubai, the local franchise of the American chain of pizza restaurants, has confirmed to Gulf News that it has permanently closed all seven branches in Dubai, without providing any reason.
In a private message from its official FaceBook page, Round Table Pizza Dubai said that “unfortunately” the restaurants had all been closed, whilst confirming that all seven outlets would indeed be shutting down.
On Thursday, a representative from Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) said that the branch there had “closed and won’t open again.”
At the time of writing, none of the restaurant’s seven branches in the Dubai have working telephone lines, and the Round Table Pizza at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) has its shutters down.
Staff in the neighbouring shops and restaurants at DWTC reported that the franchise there had been closed for nearly a month, telling Gulf News that they had heard it was due to lack of business.
Round Table Pizza’s corporate office in the United States has not yet responded to a request for comment, whilst the local franchisee in the UAE, reportedly named Ghassan Wehbe, has no publicly available contact details or website. It is unclear if Webhe is still affiliated with the business in the UAE. He has no online presence that could be found.
All of the pizza chain’s outlets are listed as permanently closed on the website Round Menu, a restaurant guide, whilst Zomato and Google My Business, Google’s review feature, both changed the restaurant’s status to permanently closed following Gulf News initial report of the chain’s closure on Thursday.
In 2009, Round Table Pizza announced that its local partner had won the rights to expand his portfolio of seven franchised pizza restaurants in the UAE to 17. However, eight years later, these additional 10 restaurants have never opened.
At the time of the announcement (in 2009), Round Table president Rob McCourt said: “Mr Wehbe has faithfully represented our brand’s core values in the UAE and his commitment has paved the way for further growth.”
The statement then from Round Table Pizza also made reference to further expansion across the Gulf and Lebanon, in partnership with Wehbe.
This regional growth also failed to ever materialise, with Bahraini conglomerate M.H. Al Mahroos being chosen as the preferred franchisee instead.
Al Mahroos Foods, a subsidiary of M.H. Al Mahroos, currently operates three Round Table Pizza branches in Bahrain according to its website, and in a 2015 statement it announced it was planning to expand to neighbouring countries including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
According to retail expert Colin Beaton, the closures are simply a sign of the times.
“This is a reflection of the retail market maturing. You need an efficient marketing operation, a sophisticated business strategy, and many more things to compete. Companies that cannot operate efficiently and effectively will not survive,” said Beaton, Managing Director of Limelight Creative Services, a retail strategy firm.
He added that the ‘Build it and they will come’ approach of the past would not work any longer.
“In this soft economy, you will have a shake up and the companies that aren’t able to operate and market effectively will not be able survive, but that’s the sign of a mature market. Those who aren’t good, or who aren’t efficient or who don’t keep their promises won’t make it,” he said.
Some Dubai residents that Gulf News spoke to say they ate Round Table Pizza for lunch at school in the 1990s.